Great Lakes: IRIN Update 198, 6/20/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 198, 6/20/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.198 on the Great Lakes (20 June 1997)

* Armed gangs have killed 14 people in the northwest Burundi province of Bubanza, Burundi radio reported yesterday. Provincial governor Lt-Col Gerard Habiyo who visited Ngara where Tuesday's attack occurred said the attackers had been dislodged from Bujumbura Rural after clashes with the security forces and were in "disarray". The local people tried to hide from the attackers, but 11 civilians and three soldiers lost their lives. According to the governor, the rebels also laid mines which exploded injuring six soldiers.

* Burundian leader Maj Pierre Buyoya met visiting US envoy Richard Bogosian yesterday during which they discussed the government's regroupment policy. Burundi radio said Buyoya, who is touring the northern provinces, told Bogosian that regrouped people would be allowed home where security conditions could be guaranteed. He said large regroupment camps housing 15,000-20,000 should be done away with, particularly because they were health hazards. Buyoya added that regrouped people who preferred to settle in small villages along roads should be allowed to do so. He pointed out that displaced people's camps should be set up in secure areas so that IDPs could be protected in safety. "What we aim at in this business of reconstruction is to eliminate the dependence of the people...", Buyoya said.

Bogosian who is the US special envoy for the Great Lakes region told reporters yesterday all the political leaders he met agreed the Burundi problem could not be solved militarily. He said they all supported the idea of national reconciliation. However, the envoy has not met the leader of the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD), Leonard Nyangoma, although he said he would try and arrange a meeting. On Wednesday, CNDD issued a statement accusing the Burundian army of preparing for "total war" against the Hutu population and FDD, the CNDD's armed wing.

* UN missions to the northern Cibitoke province resumed on Wednesday after they were temporarily suspended following an attack on a military escort vehicle earlier this month. However strict security regulations are in force.

* Burundian Prime Minister Pascal-Firmin Ndimira has visited Bujumbura port and the Gatumba border post to assess the impact of the easing of sanctions. He described the trend as positive, with a progressive increase in customs revenue. Port services had resumed, with 75 percent of employees back at work and a rise in the turnover of goods. Ndimira expressed concern over reports of smuggling goods such as sugar, rice and coffee through Gatumba and said he would check on coordination and control mechanisms at the border.

* Concern mounted over the safety of national aid workers in Rwanda after another local UN employee was murdered in the northern Ruhengeri area. A driver for UNHCR was shot dead last night as he was having dinner at home with his family. A UNHCR team has gone up to Ruhengeri today, under military escort, intially to bring national staff and their families down from the hills into Ruhengeri town. Tomorrow, UNHCR plans to transfer to Kigali any employees who so wish. This latest killing follows that of two WFP local employees in the same area earlier this week.

* The Rwanda News Agency reported fierce fighting in Cyabingo commune, south of Ruhengeri, which broke out last Friday after the army killed a senior ex-FAR officer named Major Bahemba. Local officials said 50 ex-FAR and Interahamwe members were killed in the fighting, in which heavy artillery was used. RNA said Bahemba was reportedly one of the ex-FAR officers behind the wave of insecurity currently rocking northern Rwanda. In the southwest Cyangugu prefecture, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials claimed "many infiltrators" had been captured since the beginning of June and military equipment seized, including mortars and rocket launchers.

* Yasushi Akashi, the UN's Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, has condemned the killings of two World Food Programme employees in Ruhengeri. In a statement he said there was no excuse for such "wanton acts" against humanitarian workers. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council denounced attacks against UN and aid workers, urging all concerned parties to strengthen and ensure the safety of humanitarian staff worldwide. Yesterday, the Security Council said it was gravely concerned over the recent increase in attacks or use of force in conflict situations against refugees and other civilians. In a presidential statement, it called for strict compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law.

* The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, in a statement to mark Africa Refugee Day today, has described the plight of Rwandan and Burundian refugees as "one of the worst dramas of our times". She appealed to African leaders to "preserve the institution of asylum" and to the international community to help host countries, and called for joint efforts to try and resolve refugee problems.

Amnesty International said the international community had a shared responsibility to work to solve the refugee crisis. In a statement for Africa Refugee Day, it said the world was failing to prevent massive human rights abuses which were responsible for the refugee crises in Africa. It claimed the standard government response to the Great Lakes crisis had been to react to emergencies and not to address the underlying causes.

* An advance team for a UN human rights investigation into alleged atrocities committed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Kinshasa today.

* The three-day ceasefire in Congo-Brazzaville is due to expire at midnight tonight as Red Cross workers hoped to clear the city of bodies still lying in the streets. UN-OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Mohamed Sahnoun, who is trying to mediate between the warring sides of President Pascal Lissouba and ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso is trying to gather support for an African buffer force for the city. The outlook for the weekend is somewhat uncertain with the expiry of the ceasefire and the withdrawal of remaining French forces.

* The Ugandan state-owned 'New Vision' today reported that soldiers in the northern Kitgum district attacked four Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel hideouts, killing at least six rebels, and sending many others running. Sources told the newspaper the attack occurred late Tuesday. A senior commander said the army was putting pressure on the rebels. Some 30 insurgents had surrendered over the last week, he said.

*IRIN - West Africa: The Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN-WA) is a unit of the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), designed to promote information exchange within the humanitarian community in West Africa. The Network will be modelled after IRIN-Great Lakes, which provides a unique service in offering a wide array of information to a diverse audience. For further information: Tel: +225 217367, Fax: +225 216335, E-mail: IRIN-WA@AfricaOnline.Co.Ci

Nairobi, 20 June 1997, 15:00 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: Fri, 20 Jun 1997 18:12:11 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 198 for 20 June 1997 97.6.20 Message-ID: <>

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

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