Great Lakes: IRIN Update 206, 7/4/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 206, 7/4/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.206 on the Great Lakes (4 July 1997)

* Differences remain today between the UN and President Laurent-Desire Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the terms and membership of a human rights mission due to investigate allegations of massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Zaireans by Kabila's troops. The human rights team was due to start its investigations on Monday. But at a press conference in Kinshasa yesterday, Minister for Reconstruction Etienne Mbaya announced that the mission would be postponed because no agreement had been reached between the government and the UN. The DRC authorities are insisting that Roberto Garreton be withdrawn from the team as his previous report, alleging mass killings by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), was not objective. "We do not like the report," Mbaya told the BBC Swahili service. "If we have to have another report, he should not be part of the delegation." The authorities are also demanding that the mission extends its brief to include all events since March 1993, before the genocide in Rwanda and the mass exodus of refugees to what was then Zaire. Mbaya said seven days would be needed to issue entry visas to the investigators. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday he was determined to "get to the facts" in the disturbing reports of mass killings of refugees. If it was impossible to field the team as originally planned, he said, "we have to come up with other means."

* There is still international concern about the erratic access allowed to humanitarian agencies trying to work with refugees in eastern DRC, Oxfam said in its latest Great Lakes bulletin. Oxfam says the "loosening of the standards of control" of the ADFL and increasing insecurity make it more difficult for agencies to work there. In neighbouring Rwanda, Oxfam says its work, especially in the north and northwestern areas, is "greatly restricted by insecurity and, in a different way, by government restrictions."

* Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame today denied that Rwanda had played any role in massacres of refugees in DRC, AFP reported. Speaking at celebrations to commemorate the Rwandan Patriotic Front's capture of Kigali in 1994, Kagame said they had done everything they could to make sure the majority of the refugees came home. * More than 200,000 Rwandans and around 35,000 Burundian refugees who had been in the DRC are still unaccounted for, the UNHCR said yesterday. The figures do not take into account "violent and non-violent deaths." More than 20,000 refugees are known to be still in DRC, and thousands of others in Congo, the Central African Republic, Angola and Tanzania.

* Humanitarian sources say around 3,500 Rwandan refugees are moving towards Gabon, after fleeing DRC and being assisted temporarily at Bilolo, Congo. A couple of hundred of them are reported to have already reached Gabon's southeastern border with Congo.

* Humanitarian sources estimate the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in eastern DRC to be around 190,000. Nearly 95,000 are in the Masisi, of whom the majority are people from the Hunde ethnic group prevented from going home by continuing insecurity. They are likely to resettle among their host communities. Some relief assistance reaches the Masisi through missionary groups and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF). Other smaller clusters of IDPs are in Walikale, Kirotshe, Rutshuru, South Kivu and Shaba areas.

* The UN Security Council yesterday expressed its backing for the deployment of a peacekeeping force to be sent to Brazzaville in Congo. The force of up to 1,000 would be made up of mainly African troops and its main job would be to secure Brazzaville airport. No country has yet offered to lead the mission, however, and it is unclear how it would be financed. Sporadic shelling was reported today in Brazzaville, where forces of President Pascal Lissouba are battling militia loyal to former president Denis Sassou Nguesso. The OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Mohamed Sahnoun, warned that the fighting in Brazzaville may spill over into Kinshasa across the Congo river in neighbouring DRC. Shells fired from Brazzaville have landed in Kinshasa. Sahnoun said an international force could prevent the escalation of the conflict into Kinshasa, and stop the flow of arms into Brazzaville. It would also protect humanitarian agencies as they assist the victims of the conflict. Congolese radio yesterday issued a stern warning that members of the armed forces caught engaging in "theft, pillage and acts of banditry" would be "neutralised."

* The Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, said yesterday she was deeply concerned about thousands of children who have been abducted by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda. 5-8,000 children are estimated to have been taken captive from Gulu and Kitgum and trained as fighters or kept as slaves or wives for rebel commanders, many of whom operate from bases in southern Sudan. A Ugandan delegation recently went to Khartoum to discuss with the Sudanese authorities the release of a number of schoolgirls held by the LRA. In a statement from New York, Bellamy urged the international community to pledge its support for the release of the children. She suggested that the Sudanese government would find a "most suitable forum" for announcing their release at the forthcoming Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of state summit due to be held in Nairobi on 8 July.

* A Catholic church official yesterday made an urgent appeal for humanitarian assistance to be sent to Rumbek in south Sudan, AFP reported. Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, the Apostolic Administrator for Rumbek Diocese, described the state of people there as desperate. Rumbek was captured from the Sudanese government by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in April. Since then, many people have been returning home from refugee camps in northern Uganda and from other government-held areas in south Sudan. Mazzolari said they had received no assistance and were in "dire need."

* A two-day workshop organised by a German institute, the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), entitled "Improving African and international capabilities for preventing and solving violent conflict, the Great Lakes Region crisis" ended today at the Hilton Hotel, Berlin.

* Uganda's 'Monitor' said today a team of 10 Ugandan police officers were in Kinshasa to train a unit of men handpicked by Kabila into an anti-riot squad.

* Burundi's Internet service, running on a trial basis, currently has around 50 subscribers, including the World Bank, UNHCR, Oxfam amd other non-governmental organisations. It is run privately and uses a VSAT satellite dish. Their e-mail address is:

Nairobi, 4 July 1997, 15:15 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, 4 Jul 1997 17:48:57 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 206 for 4 July 1997 97.7.4 Message-ID: <>

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

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