Great Lakes: IRIN Update 171, 5/14/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 171, 5/14/97

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

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

IRIN Emergency Update No.171 on the Great Lakes (14 May 1997)

* Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko arrived in the Congolese port of Pointe-Noire ready for his second face-to-face meeting with Laurent Kabila, leader of the rebl Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), due to take place on board a South African ship. South African president Nelson Mandela, who will host the talks, his deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad and UN/OAU Special Representative Mohamed Sahnoun arrived earlier. Mr Kabila was due to arrive from Angola. The streets of the Zairean capital Kinshasa were reported unusually quiet as residents heeded a stay-at-home call by the opposition.

* In the run-up to the talks, rebel radio put out conflicting statements. The Voice of the People in Lubumbashi announced on Tuesday that Laurent Kabila's forces would attack Kinshasa if the talks failed. Ihis morning, the radio in Bunia said the ADFL were "slowing down their advance on Kinshasa for political and strategic reasons." It said rebel infiltrators in Kinshasa had uncovered President Mobutu's last-ditch defence plan, involving the deployment of six tanks, a few navy vessels and troop reinforcements in certain parts of the capital.

* AFP reported four people killed and six badly injured in an explosion yesterday night on a ferry arriving at Kinshasa river port from Brazzaville. Zairean information minister Kin-Kiey Mulumba said it was caused by a bomb but did not indicate who might be responsible.

* The international airlines Swissair, Sabena and Air France cancelled all flights to Kinshasa, diverting to the neighbouring Congolese capital of Brazzaville.

* The United States, Britain and Belgium have issued further last-minute warnings to their nationals to leave Zaire while they can. Some 2,700 Belgians and 300 Americans remain. AFP reports the deployment of 200 legionnaires to Brazzaville as part of Operation Pelican to evacuate French nationals if necessary.

* The Kenyan 'East African Standard' newspaper said today rebel leader Laurent Kabila would meet Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi next week in Nairobi. The paper says the two men spoke at length by telephone for the first time last Thursday. Mr Kabila also met Kenya's special envoy Mark Too, chairman of Lonrho East Africa and close aide to President Moi, at rebel headquarters in Lubumbashi a few days ago.

* MSF-Belgium confirmed that ADFL troops took over Mbandaka in north-western Zaire on Tuesday morning. Zairean soldiers had already fled and the town fell without a fight. Missionary sources say they have received reports of rebel massacres of refugees in Mbandaka, who are trying to flee to neighbouring Congo. According to AFP, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday "totally reliable sources" had reported atrocities in Mbandaka carried out by the ADFL. There are fears of another looming refugee crisis, as 20-30,000 Rwandan Hutus, who earlier fled Kisangani by boat, mass in Mbandaka. ICRC confirmed thousands have already crossed the river to Liranga, a swampy area in Congo inaccessible by land. Emergency food has been dropped by helicopter. 3-400 more are crossing the river every day. Most are in a poor state of health and cholera is reported by aid agencies.

* The UN's Centre for Human Rights in Geneva said on Monday its team was blocked by the rebels from investigating reports of massacres in eastern Zaire. The team spent a week in the Rwandan capital Kigali unable to obtain permission from the ADFL to enter eastern Zaire. AFP quoted UN special rapporteur for Zaire, Roberto Garreton, as saying he had received reports of new massacres in the region. His first report in March identified at least 3,800 deaths during the rebel offensive between September and December.

* Angolan government radio said yesterday security is to be reinforced along the border with Zaire to prevent the "massive influx" of refugees and armed men from Zaire. It said the situation was "worrying."

* The UNHCR has asked the Angolan government to agree to a humanitarian corridor to rescue up to 12,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees stranded in an isolated border region inside Zaire. A UNHCR mission was allowed to carry out a cross-border search for the first time yesterday. Spokeswoman Pam O'Toole said if permission is given, the refugees could be airlifted back to Rwanda from Dundu in Angola.

* ICRC says an operation to repatriate 7-9,000 internally displaced Zaireans from Kalemie to Uvira in eastern Zaire will begin next week by boat. Around 17,000 displaced people remain in the capital Kinshasa, where sanitation conditions are said to be poor and cholera cases are on the increase.

* The UN has repatriated close to 23,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees to date from the Kisangani area, with 97 flights since the airlift began on 27 April. They include 2,050 unaccompanied children.

* UNHCR is considering renovating a bush airstrip at Ubundu, 95 kms south of Kisangani, to facilitate the repatriation of refugees from Km 82, where at least 6,000 refugees were found in desperate condition at the weekend. At Biaro, Km 41, on Monday a group of Zaireans blocked the train transporting refugees to Kisangani and threatened an aid worker. The situation was later defused.

* An assessment mission by humanitarian agencies from Uvira to Fizi, south Kivu, found a tense situation with ethnic divisions becoming increasingly apparent within the rebel forces. The region is controlled by Banyamulenge, militarily and administratively, to the frustration of other local tribes, especially Bavira and Babembe. Hundreds of internally displaced people are living in poor conditions with little food.

* The Burundian government and the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) have agreed in principle to a ceasefire after talks in Rome. President Pierre Buyoya told a press conference in the Burundian capital Bujumbura they had "already defined the outline to be discussed to arrive at a ceasefire."

* Amnesty International has expressed fear for the safety of 100 Zaireans being held by the Tanzanian authorities in the western town of Kigoma. The group, including two prominent members of President Mobutu's political party, MPR, fled from Zaire following the outbreak of the conflict last October. The Tanzanians have given them until today to leave under their own means.

* The Chinese premier Li Peng ended a seven-nation African tour in Tanzania yesterday, where he signed an agreement on Sino-Tanzanian economic and technological co-operation and a loan agreement for the Tanzania-Zambia railway.

* The Sudanese government said today it would lift a ban on flights to southern Sudan. UN planes have been grounded for more than a week because of a denial of clearance by the control tower in government-held Juba. WFP's C-130, used for large deliveries of food, has been unable to land in the south since March. Aid workers suspect a deliberate attempt by the Khartoum government to cut off food supplies to areas held by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), led by John Garang, which has scored a string of military victories and is threatening Juba.

* SUNA reports that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir yesterday ordered the release of all political detainees, following last month's internal peace accord with several splinter southern rebel factions.

* The Ugandan New Vision reports today that two people were killed and several others injured when their vehicle hit a landmine at Kiburara on the Kasese to Bwera road yesterday. Security officials linked it to a rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces in the district. The Monitor carries an interview with Ugandan defence minister Amama Mbabazi, who said the army had overrun an ADF base at Kahindangoma in Kasese.

Nairobi, 14 May 1997, 14:35 gmt


[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: Wed, 14 May 1997 17:30:12 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 171 for 14 May 1997 97.5.14 Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific