Great Lakes: IRIN Update 201, 6/26/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 201, 6/26/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.201 on the Great Lakes (26 June 1997)

* The UN advance team investigating alleged human rights abuses against Rwandan refugees in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) met the minister for reconstruction and emergency planning Etienne Mbaya in Kinshasa on Tuesday. During the meeting, members of the team agreed to present the minister with a draft proposal outlining issues pertinent to the investigation. BBC radio reported from Mbandaka yesterday that refugees were still emerging from the forests. Local people claimed refugees had been killed by troops from the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) and their bodies thrown into the Congo river.

Ugandan Minister for State for Foreign Affairs Rebecca Kadaga has denied allegations that her country urged DRC to block UN investigations into alleged human rights abuses. Ugandan radio said Kadaga, who is in charge of regional cooperation, made the comments during a meeting with the Swedish ambassador on Tuesday.

* More security problems have been reported in the Fizi area of eastern DRC. In the past, there have been reports of fighting by a group opposed to the ADFL, of which a prominent member is a man called Charles Simba who has been active in the area. Earlier this year reports from Fizi said Simba had been fighting alongside Burundian rebels from the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) who are said to be cooperating with a Babembe resistance movement, Conseil de Resistance et de Liberation du Kivu, based in the Kigoma area of Tanzania. Unconfirmed reports say a town south of Fizi has fallen to Simba's rebels and other towns are said to have been attacked. However, the Fizi commissaire de zone said the ADFL were in control and denied any towns had fallen. Charles Simba is a former comrade of DRC leader Laurent-Desire Kabila when the two fought together as rebels against the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, but they split over differences regarding the role played by outsiders in the takeover of Zaire.

Local authorities from South Kivu, DRC, and Kigoma, Tanzania, have been meeting to discuss the repatriation of refugees from Kigoma. A delegation from South Kivu visited the Kigoma district commissioner this week, and the visit will be returned next week. Humanitarian sources say that 5,000 Congolese refugees who registered for repatriation are now disinclined due to the security situation in South Kivu. UNHCR is planning an evaluation mission south of Uvira.

* 'Africa Confidential' writes that the outgoing regime of Zairean president Mobutu had been negotiating a rescue package with mercenaries from South Africa, involving over 500 heavily armed airmen and soldiers. According to the report, the key financer of the arrangement - estimated at some $US 80 million - was former army chief of staff Gen Kpama Baramoto Kata, who was forced to flee to South Africa on May 15, just before the ADFL takeover of Kinshasa.

* DRC state radio yesterday announced that former Zairean troops will be trained and absorbed into the new Congolese army. It said the soldiers were being sent from Kinshasa to Kitona, 360 kms to the southeast, for initial training.

* A meeting of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes countries (CEPGL), due to be held yesterday in Kinshasa, will now start today, according to Burundi radio, because DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha was out of town and his Rwandan counterpart Anastase Gasana had not yet arrived. Only the Burundian foreign minister, Luc Rukingama, was in the DRC capital.

* Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki arrived in Kigali from DRC yesterday on a three-day official visit to Rwanda. Rwandan radio said he would hold talks with top officials and visit the prefectures of Gikongoro and Byumba.

* Rwanda will ratify an international treaty banning the use of landmines, according to information ministry spokesman Jean-Nepomuscene Nayinzira. He told the Rwanda News Agency, monitored by BBC, that his country would need assistance from the international community to rid Rwanda of mines planted during the four-year civil war. He noted the US government had helped Rwanda in clearing mines, but the task remained challenging and would take some time.

* Security forces on Tuesday night ambushed a gang of "assailants" in Burundi's southern Bururi province, killing at least one of them, the Burundi news agency (ABP) reported yesterday. It said the attack occurred in the Teba district of Rumonge commune, and according to security force sources, many rebels were killed. However, the bodies were reportedly removed by the rebels. According to ABP, "they never leave them on the battlefield".

* The World Health Organisation has reported a cumulative total of 28,724 typhus cases in Burundi as of 10 June 1997, with Kayanza province being worst hit. Camps and prisons were said to be the risk areas. Efforts were also underway to control a malaria epidemic in Kirundo province. During April/May 1997, 320,000 people were at risk in different communes and some 12,209 cases were treated.

* The headquarters of Burundi's mainly Tutsi UPRONA party were surrounded by soldiers yesterday in a bid to prevent a party meeting going ahead, according to Union for National Progress (UPRONA) leader Charles Mukasi. Mukasi leads a faction of UPRONA opposed to talks between President Pierre Buyoya and the rebel National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD).

* A proposed UNESCO-sponsored meeting on "Building the Future of Burundi", intended to promote dialogue between the various political and civilian parties in Burundi has been postponed. The meeting, due to take place in Geneva between 30 June-2 July, was put off for the time being for "logistical reasons".

* ICRC says its activities in the Congolese capital Brazzaville have been severely limited after fighting again broke out in the city yesterday, following a brief lull. However four international staff and local Red Cross workers managed to evacuate 60 young orphans stranded in a home near the airport, where they had been cared for by Catholic nuns. The children, the youngest being just two weeks old, had gone without food or contact with the outside world since the unrest began on June 5. Around the city itself, ICRC and Congolese Red Cross workers have collected and buried about a hundred bodies. They will continue to provide hospitals with emergency medical aid, security conditions permitting.

Fresh fighting erupted yesterday between government forces of President Pascal Lissouba and militias loyal to ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso, as mortar bombs slammed into the city centre including one of Brazzaville's top hotels. Reuters said the firing appeared to come from northern areas, held by Sassou Nguesso. Lissouba told AFP by phone that the "war is resuming. It hasn't ended". The UN is trying to put together an African peacekeeping force, whose first task according to Mohamed Sahnoun, joint UN-OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes, will be to take control of the airport.

* The Ugandan 'New Vision' reported today that an ex-Zairean army captain was captured fighting alongside rebels of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) in the western Ugandan town of Bundibugyo. It quoted State Minister for Defence Amama Mbabazi as saying the rebels had now scattered into small groups, some of whom were staging ambushes on the road to Fort Portal.

* A rift is reportedly developing between the Sudanese government and rebel factions over implementation of a peace accord signed in April. The Inter Press Service (IPS) said the rebel alliance, United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF), had taken issue with a government decree governing the implementation. In a memo to President Omar el-Bashir and other Sudanese leaders, UDSF head Riak Machar said the decree was an "attempt to abrogate the agreement". Discrepancies in the decree identified by the UDSF included an omission that any appointments by the president must be done in consultation with the UDSF. Machar said the decree, announced on Monday, basically eroded the powers of a Coordinating Council, which would include UDSF representatives.

* John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) which is fighting the Sudanese government, has claimed the military situation in southern Sudan is very favourable for the rebels. He told AFP by telephone from the Eritrean capital Asmara, the SPLA had advanced 800 kms since March. Garang also announced he was head of a joint command which would improve military coordination in the east, south and Nuba mountain areas. The SPLA has joined with northern opponents to the regime under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

* A UN-NGO mission to Andrada in Angola's Lunda Norte province has established there are 5,191 registered displaced people in the town, fleeing fighting in the area between Angolan troops and the former UNITA rebels, and displacement south of Andrada is continuing. However, these people have been prevented from reaching Andrada and are concentrated in abandoned villages recently occupied by the Angolan army. Additionally, groups of people from Luia and Cachimo are arriving in Maludi and Luaco. WFP and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) who are active in the area have requested humanitarian partners to register these IDPs. The municipal adminstrator of Andrada told the mission that a group of 180 Rwandan and Burundian refugees had reportedly arrived northeast of Canzar on the DRC border and these will be investigated in a follow-up mission.

Nairobi, 26 June 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: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 18:17:41 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 201 for 26 June 1997 97.6.26 Message-ID: <>

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

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