UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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This is number 17 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN agencies, NGOs, other international organisations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.
Weekly Roundup of Main Events in the Great Lakes region
8 - 14 July 1996
# The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) ended its summit in Cameroon on Wednesday, expressing its concern at the situation in Burundi and its support for the `security assistance' plan agreed at the Great Lakes regional summit in Arusha on 25 June. A resolution stated that the OAU `declares its full support to the outcome of the Arusha regional summit of 25th June, 1996, particularly the adherence to the request by the Burundian government to provide security assistance.' The resolution also took the position that the assistance was not interference, stating that `on the contrary, it is a demonstration of brotherly concern and genuine anxiety to avoid a new African catastrophe'. The OAU praised Julius Nyerere's efforts in the Mwanza negotiations and appealed on member states to provide logistics and financial aid for countries sending troops to Burundi. The inter-country committee charged with detailing the proposal had yet to report by the end of the week. Former President Nyerere was quoted as saying the intervention would try to "induce a ceasefire" and "provide the right climate for round-table talks in Burundi", but could not come under the command of the Burundian authorities.
# Burundi's Minister of Defence, Firmin Sinzoyiheba, is reported by Reuter on Monday to have said that the army considered staging a coup but decided against it. "We've been considering the coup option for a long time... But we've decided against it because it can lead to an even graver situation," he said. "Believe me, if I were convinced that an army coup would end our problems, I'd have done it a long time ago."
# The UN launched a Special Appeal on Wednesday calling for $863,000 for the emergency relief needs of an estimated 250,000 displaced people in the North Kivu Province of Eastern Zaire. The appeal will cover a period of six months and aims at meeting the immediate humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations. UNICEF will be the implementing agency and plans multi-sectoral operations targeting deficiencies in the health, education, nutrition, water and sanitation sectors. DHA, in collaboration with all relevant agencies, expects to field a mission later this year, to assess the needs for a consolidated appeal for the Great Lakes in 1997.
# A UNHCR spokesperson on Friday said that so far it had only received $124 million of an appeal for $288 million for the Great Lakes in 1996. The shoratge of funds has led to cutbacks in services in the camps, the impact of which "is becoming strikingly apparent". Despite the current funding difficulties, UNHCR is appealing to goverments to support a special appeal for Burundian refugees. Given the potential for further deterioration in the situation, the UNHCR is seeking an additional $13 million to prepare for up to 300,000 new refugees from Burundi to Zaire, Tanzania and Rwanda.
# The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Zaire, Mr Roberto Garreton, announced a planned visit to North Kivu from 6 to 12 July to obtain first-hand information about the situation in Masisi and surrounding areas. While in Rwanda, he interviewed Zairean refugees who had sought refuge in Rwanda, but was unable to reach people who had been internally displaced and remained in North Kivu, lacking clearance from the Government of Zaire. The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burundi, Paulo Sirgio Pinheiro, is also in the region, visiting Burundi from 2-16 July.
# The UN put off plans to take a humanitarian aid convoy into Cibitoke in northwest Burundi planned for the week beginning 15 July. The UNHCR Representative in Burundi, Hitoshi Mise, had announced the plan on 10 July, stating that the operation would seek to get access to at least 5,000 displaced people in Cibitoke town and neighbouring villages. The plan was shelved after a rebel group active in the area, the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People (PALIPEHUTU) declined all responsibility for the safety of the convoy, were it to be escorted by Government troops. Cibitoke, scene of the heaviest fighting in Burundi's civil conflict during recent weeks, remains cut off from international humaniatarian aid since ICRC pulled out after three of its delegates were killed in an ambush on June 4.
# The Rwandan Government refused to sign a Central African treaty on non-aggression which was signed on Monday at the OAU summit. The accord, negotiated in 1993, was signed by Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad and Zaire. The Secretary of the UN Commission on Security in Central Africa, Mr Sammy Kum Buo, told reporters that Rwanda had agreed in April to sign the accord but that "now the foreign affairs minister... has told his colleagues that the non-aggression pact will have to be studied and approved by the cabinet before Rwanda could sign it."
# The Rwandan Government broke ranks with other OAU member states by publicly opposing the OAU summit's endorsement of Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali as UN Secretary-General for a second term. Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu said on Wednesday, "he has betrayed those people who have been massacred and he has betrayed the African people [...] Some say we should have supported him because of African solidarity but African solidarity also means accountability and we find that when we evaluate (Boutros-Ghali's) action, it has been negative."
# Four hundred Burundian refugees arrived in Cyangugu in Rwanda from Cibitoke on Wednesday, according to WFP staff on the ground. They join 3,400 other recent arrivals in Cyangugu, who are currently staying at Bugarama communal office. Meanwhile, UNHCR in Zaire reported that the rate of refugees fleeing to Uvira fell during the week.
# The number of Zairean refugees arriving in Gisenyi, Rwanda was reported by WFP last week to have `slowed down to a trickle'. The latest availbale figures for the Zairean refugees are 12,500 people at Umubano camp and 847 people waiting to be transferred there from Nkamira transit centre.
# The Burundian Army claimed on Wednesday to have killed 22 Hutu rebels after they attacked a camp for internally displaced people in Bubanza province. The attack was alleged to have taken place on Monday against a camp of 1,200 internally displaced people in Ruganzi, about 30 km north of Bujumbura. The army spokesperson also said that on Monday the rebels ambushed a military vehicle in Kabezi region and attacked an army position in Ruziba, both south of the capital, but there were no casualties.
# UN Human Rights monitors are investigating reports of numerous killings in Rwanda reported over the last week. The UN HRFOR spokesperson announced that 25 victims were killed on Monday in four separate incidents in Byumba and Kigali Rural prectures. Also, an army operation in Gisenyi on the 9th and 10th of July against insurgents left another 62 people dead. The UN HRFOR reported that nine civilians from Rushashi district of Kigali Rural prefecture were killed on Tuesday during a RPA cordon and search operation. The operation was undertaken as part of a search for people responsible for the murder of a family of eight on 20 June. Six hundred mainly Tutsi survivors of genocide have also fled their homes in Gitarama and taken refuge near government offices in Nyabikenke, following threats from insurgents.
# Trouble on Zaire's Idjwi island in lake Kivu on 6 July, during which which 5 refugees were killed and 20 injured, was sparked off by a dispute between Zairian soldiers and refugees. According to UNHCR in a VOA broadcast of 10 July, other reports of the involvement of RPA forces in the violence were untrue. The island is home to over 40,000 Rwandan refugees who fled between April and June 1994. It is believed to be a major base for insurgency activities in Rwanda by Hutu rebels opposed to the current Government.
# The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is set to indict four more suspects held in Cameroon during the coming week. Latest reports indicate that the Belgian Supreme Court has dropped orders for the extradition of Theoneste Bagasora, one of the most wanted figures in the Tribunal's investigations, thereby removing an obstacle to his prosecution by the ICTR. Also during the week, a Canadian court ordered the expulsion of Leon Mugesera, a former senior official of the Habyarimana government.
# President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda set out his priorities for the next five years in a State of the Nation address to the first session of the new Ugandan parliament on Monday. His main focus will be on raising the country's living standards, while major priorities include the modernization of agriculture in order to increase yields and ultimately the living standards of the rural poor. The President also stated his intention to try to persuade the Governments of Kenya and Tanzania to have uniform tax rates in an effort to avoid discrepancies that cause unfair competition. The President also sent out the signal that he will not tolerate corruption in Government, and he will meet Permanent Secretaries in various Ministries on a regular basis to check directly that no Minister diverts public funds. Clashes between the Lord's Resistance Army and government forces flared up again during the week, leaving at least 9 dead.
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From: Ben Parker <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 20:05:46 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #17 8-15 July 1996 96.7.14 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.91.960715173529.551Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Ali Dinar, email@example.com