Great Lakes: IRIN Update 178, 5/21/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 178, 5/21/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.178 on the Great Lakes (21 May 1997)

* Laurent-Desire Kabila, self-proclaimed President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), arrived unannounced in Kinshasa at around 9 pm local time yesterday. There was no official reception at the airport, apparently for security reasons. CNN showed pictures today of more ADFL troops entering the capital.

* Two French businessmen were killed by men wearing uniforms at a building site on the outskirts of Kinshasa yesterday evening. Radio France Internationale said it may have been a settling of scores. ADFL security chief Paul Kabongo said the killings may have been carried out by former government soldiers to "discredit the alliance." He promised an inquiry, saying that pockets of insecurity remained in the capital. Local newspapers said hospitals in Kinshasa were continuing to receive dead and wounded from incidents of looting and violence.

* The French foreign ministry today expressed its shock at the killing of the two Frenchmen and called for steps to be taken to ensure the safety of the French community in DRC. The ministry said France's ambassador in Kinshasa would be conveying this in a message to the DRC authorities also calling for quick elections, and expressing concern over the situation of refugees in the country and insecurity in border areas.

* AFP quoted a French government official yesterday saying ousted president Mobutu had not requested shelter in France, but if he did "his request would be examined." A foreign ministry spokesman said they had not yet been approached by the new DRC authorities but would be "accommodating" to such contacts.

* AFP reported yesterday that the Central African Republic (CAR) had formally recognised the DRC and its new authorities. Mozambique made a similar announcement today.

* In the Zimbabwean capital Harare, embassy staff pulled down the Zairean flag and papered over the embassy sign with a handwritten notice reading "Welcome to DRC", AFP reported. The embassy has no electricity or telephones because of long unpaid bills.

* UN and aid agency staff suspended work today in Stanleyville (formerly Kisangani) in eastern DRC as students held violent protests over the killing yesterday of a student by ADFL soldiers who allegedly tried to rob him. The students rampaged through the town, smashing windows at the town hall and hijacking vehicles. Some shots were heard on the university campus. Sources in the town say students were shouting slogans such as "Tutsis go home" and "Leave the Congolese people in peace". UN staff cancelled visits to refugee sites and no planes were brought in. Some 3,000 Rwandan refugees are waiting at the UNHCR transit centre to be flown home. UN officials received additional assurances from the ADFL authorities that they will be able to access freely areas south of km 42 tomorrow.

* The medical aid organisation Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) has accused the ADFL authorities of carrying out "a deliberate strategy... aimed at the elimination of all Rwandan refugees including women and children." In a 10-page report dated 16 May, entitled "A Brutal Strategy of Elimination in Eastern Zaire," MSF says the ADFL has systematically obstructed efforts by aid agencies to provide food, medical care and protection to the refugees. It says aid agencies have been "used repeatedly" by the military to locate or lure refugees out of the forest "in order to eliminate them." MSF estimates that 190,000 Rwandan Hutus are still missing in eastern Zaire.

* Reuters said yesterday tens of thousands of landmines had been planted in DRC, mainly by mercenaries propping up Mobutu's former regime in areas like Stanleyville. The report quoted Human Rights Watch as saying the minefields were unmarked.

* The UNHCR hopes to start as early as tomorrow airlifting Rwandan Hutu refugees found at Mbandaka, in the north-western part of DRC bordering Congo, back to Rwanda. An inter-agency mission to the area found 1-2,000 Rwandans at the airport. Many were men who had been disarmed by Mobutu's army before the arrival of ADFL forces. 5-10,000 others are believed to be dispersed in surrounding forests. They are part of a much larger original group of Rwandans who moved to the area a few weeks ago and camped close to the river on the border. The mission found their camp now empty, with a large pile of discarded former Rwandan army uniforms and weapons and ammunition at a crossroads nearby. Some of the group are said to have gone to Congo while others went further south inside DRC.

* Thousands of refugees from DRC, including businessmen, former Zairean military officers and Rwandans, have been arriving in the Central African Republic (CAR), UNHCR said yesterday. At least 2,000 Zaireans crossed the Ubangi river from the village of Mobutu's residence at Gbadolite to Mobaye in CAR. Humanitarian sources in the CAR capital Bangui say many were from Mobutu's circle and carried their belongings with them. Another 2,000 crossed to Satema. Up to 15,000 refugees are believed to be grouped in three border provinces. Zongo in DRC, close to its border with CAR, was reported to have been looted over the weekend. Two people were killed and several wounded. A number of Zairean refugees are heading for the border.

* Humanitarian sources said today 166 Rwandan refugees who had arrived in the Congolese capital Brazzaville from Kinshasa this week have been transferred to Bilolo camp 35 kms north of Brazzaville. Around 30 wounded members of the former Rwandan army arrived from Kinshasa and are also to be talken to Bilolo. Thousands more Rwandans in the Liranga (MSF-Belgium estimates 7,000 at Liranga) and Lukolela areas to the north have not yet been reached by barge from Brazzaville. Most of the Zaireans who crossed to Ngabe in Congo have returned to DRC.

* UNHCR says it will send teams over the next few days to try to reach up to 12,000 refugees close to DRC's border with Angola. The Angolan government has still not granted permission for cross-border access to these people. A smaller group of around 1,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees are in Angola itself in areas held by the rebel UNITA. Between 3-5,000 Rwandans were turned back by the Angolan authorities from the Dundu area. The government says an influx of Rwandan and Zairean refugees could jeopardise the ongoing repatriation of more than 250,000 Angolans still outside their country.

* Angolan television reported yesterday that two Brazilian UN peacekeepers were killed on Monday in an ambush near Vila Nova, central Angola. The UN's verification mission, UNAVEM, confirmed the incident which happened near a holding camp for former troops of Jonas Savimbi's rebel UNITA.

* A landmine exploded in a cemetery in the Burundian capital Bujumbura yesterday seriously injuring one man, independent Studio Ijambo told IRIN. In a further indication of rising tension, 23 trade unions condemned President Pierre Buyoya's negotiations with the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). The unions issued a joint call for resistance to the talks. The university campus continues to be cordoned off by soldiers to contain student protests over the talks. However, student leaders told Studio Ijambo that their protest was backed by influential officers within the army.

* Switzerland has extradited Alfred Musema, a Rwandan suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide, to Tanzania for trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. Musema, a former director of a Rwandan tea factory who was arrested in Switzerland in February 1995, is accused of playing a leading part in massacres of 50,000 Tutsis at Bisesero in Kubuye.

* John Garang's rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said they captured the town of Gogrial in Bahr el Ghazal early on Tuesday. Gogrial was the headquarters of Commander Kerubino, a southern rebel faction leader who had defected to the government side. The SPLA say they are advancing on the main town of Wau, 80 kms south of Gogrial, and to the oilfields around Bentiu to the northeast. Earlier this month the SPLA captured Rumbek and Tonj in Bahr el Ghazal and now control most of this central province.

* Uganda's 'New Vision' said today seven people including three soldiers were killed in an ambush by rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) fighters at Lanyatido, 40 kms south of Kitgum, last Sunday. In a separate report, the newspaper said 26 LRA rebels were killed and a top rebel commander injured in fierce battles last week with Ugandan army units in Kitgum. Security sources said LRA forces had moved from Gulu to the neighbouring Kitgum district in search of food.

Nairobi, 21 May 1997, 14:50 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, 21 May 1997 17:54:52 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 178 for 21 May 1997 97.5.21 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970521175007.411m-ength: 9492

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

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