Great Lakes: IRIN Update 165, 5/6/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 165, 5/6/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.165 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 6 May 1997)

* UN officials yesterday expressed increasing frustration with the ADFL forces around Kisangani, who have blocked access and overloaded trucks with refugees travelling from Biaro to Kisangani. The 30,000 refugees at Biaro, said the UN Secretary-General's spokesperson, were being treated like "cattle". UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, demanded "full and unconditional access" to the refugees in a statement yesterday.

Land access beyond 42 kilometres south of Kisangani is blocked by soldiers at a roadblock, despite ADFL assurances to the contrary, UN sources told IRIN today. Some UN sources say at Kilometre 82 there may be 5,800 refugees and others are emerging at Kilometre 56.

* Despite the tragedy that befell the last train carrying Rwandans from Biaro to Kisangani, UNHCR and Red Cross workers today were due to return to Kisangani from Biaro today aboard a train carrying about 1,000 refugees. In addition, five trucks picked up more refugees from Biaro today.

* Some 2,600 Rwandan refugees were repatriated by air from Kisangani yesterday on ten flights, the highest daily figure since the massive UN airlift began last week. Today's total was 1,971. Total repatriations so far stand at around 9,500.

* UN sources indicate that some Rwandans may have died in the crush while trying to board the train to Kisangani during Sunday's events, as well as the 92 who died en route and on arrival. The Rwandan Chairman of the Joint Commission for Repatriation, Ephraim Kabaija blasted the UN today in a statement calling for a full investigation into the deaths of refugees aboard the train. The Rwandan government "strongly objects to any measures aimed at slowing the return of the refugees", the statement says, accusing the UN of "gross inefficiency and mismanagement" in the incident. Ogata yesterday said she was "deeply shocked" by the deaths and called for the ADFL to "cooperate fully and coordinate with the humanitarian agencies."

MSF meanwhile, called for the suspension of the repatriation, calling it "inhuman and inadmissable", and demanding that medical treatment and an established UNHCR presence in Biaro should be preconditions for a resumption of the operation. MSF claimed severe malnutrition rates were at a staggering 60% in Biaro.

* Allegations of human rights violations continue to haunt the rebel ADFL. EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Action, Emma Bonino, accused rebel soldiers of "incomprehensible carnage" at a press conference in Brussels, alleging "massive human rights violations". A UN human rights investigative mission heading for rebel-held Zaire remains in Kigali awaiting various assurances from the ADFL.

A spokesman for the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), Raphael Ghenda, told AFP in Lubumbashi today that "UNHCR staff can go wherever they want. There are certain difficulties, but no blockages. We have no policy of genocide."

* US envoy Bill Richardson headed for Botswana today to meet Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at a meeting of the SADC. Richardson yesterday met both Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame in Kigali and ADFL leader Kabila in Lubumbashi.

* CNN reports that embattled Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko plans to fly to Gabon on Wednesday to attend a summit on the Great Lakes which will include Togo, Gabon and Congo. Kabila has offered to guarantee the safety of Mobutu and his "biological family" if he hands over power before rebels arrive in Kinshasa. Reuters reports that Zairean soldiers yesterday "thoroughly looted" Gbadolite in the northern Equateur region, site of Mobutu's jungle palace.

* CNN reported today that rebel forces were urging Kinshasa residents to don white headbands as a sign of support for the rebel forces. AFP reports that a spokesman for Zairean Prime Minister Likulia Bolongo claimed heavy fighting took place last night at Kenge, about 200 kms east of Kinshasa.

* About 40 Portuguese troops are expected in Brazzaville today, in preparation for a possible evacuation of Portuguese nationals from Kinshasa. They join up to 3,500 US, French, Belgian and British forces already on standby in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire and aboard ships in international waters.

* AFP reports 30 non-commissioned officers in the Congolese army stopped traffic and fired in the air yesterday in an attempt to force the national assembly to pass a law on army re-organization. The trouble took place around the defence ministry building in Brazzaville.

* The state-owned Ugandan 'New Vision' reported yesterday that ADFL leader Kabila had recently been travelling on President Yoweri Museveni's presidential jet in his travels between Zaire and Angola. Presidential spokeswoman Hope Kivengere would not confirm or deny the report, but said she "would not be surprised" if it were true.

* According to AFP, Zairean Foreign Minister Kamanda wa Kamanda yesterday denied reports in Sunday's New York Times that Mobutu had written to Bill Clinton informing the US President of his intention to resign.

* AFP reports that 95 people are being held at the Kamenge barracks outside Bujumbura on charges of collaborating with rebels. The arrests took place on April 22, according to a justice ministry spokesman.

* Operation Lifeline Sudan reports that bombs were dropped on Yei, southern Sudan for the fourth time since 10 April. Eight bombs were dropped between 21 and 22 April, but OLS operations continue.

Nairobi, 6 May 1997, 15:15 gmt [ENDS]

[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 18:19:09 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 165 for 6 May 1997 97.5.6 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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