Great Lakes: IRIN Update 211, 7/15/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 211, 7/15/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No.211 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 15 July 1997)

* More than 574,000 people are currently displaced from their homes and living in over 250 sites in Burundi, according to the latest estimates from DHA Burundi. The figure includes displaced, regrouped and repatriated populations. It does not, however, include an unknown number of "dispersed" people. Amnesty International yesterday released a report accusing the government of a policy of forced regroupement applied almost exclusively to Hutus resulting in "a pattern of mass human rights violations". Amnesty claims "hundreds of men, women and children have been extrajudicially executed in the process." According to the report, 'Burundi: Forced relocation, new patterns of human rights abuses', Hutus that remain behind "risk being killed by the Burundian security forces." "Conditions within camps vary," the report says, but "all are overcrowded and insanitary, some are life-threatening. In some camps, hunger and disease are rampant" and movement is restricted. The policy, Amnesty alleges, "is a long-term military strategy of forcible relocation of a particular ethnic group, carried out not for their protection but to undermine support for Hutu rebel groups." The policy has also "effectively created military zones where the authorities legitimise violations of human rights."

* UNICEF has called on the Rwandan government to give youths accused of mass killings a fair trial. A statement made at the UNICEF Cologne office yesterday, ahead of the August opening of trials for young suspects, urged that questioning of child detainees must be speeded up and those suspected of minor offences should be released. As of May 27, a total of 2,641 youths (defined as under-18 by UNICEF) were being held in over-crowded Rwandan prisons. More than 500 children are being detained with their mothers and a further 500 suspects were under the age of 14 at the time of their alleged crimes and therefore not criminally responsible under Rwandan law. Conditions for Rwanda's 110,000 prisoners awaiting trial are deplorable. Hygiene is extremely poor and sexual abuse of children by other detainees is common, UNICEF notes. The UN agency has trained 48 judicial police inspectors to set up case files for child detainees and is in the process of setting up special youth wings in existing prisons.

* Rally for the Return and Democracy (RDR) leader Francois Nzabahimana wants allegations of civilian killings by Rwandan troops in the former Zaire investigated and the accused brought to trial. "We believe that (the) Kigali (government) fought in Zaire and the international tribunal (on Rwanda) should judge all Rwandans who had killed other Rwandans either in 1994 or today, that Kagame's troops should be judged by the international tribunal," he said in a BBC Radio Kirundi/Kinyarwanda broadcast yesterday. "Then we can say that Rwanda can be rebuilt and Rwandans reunited."

* Rwanda will have to feed 1.6 million more people than last year in the second part of 1997 mainly as a result of refugee returns, but total crop production is estimated to increase only marginally, according to the latest FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission. There has been a rise in land area under cultivation over last year but it is still below pre-crisis levels. The late settlement of returning refugees for the second planting season, land disputes, and lack of inputs has limited the expansion of land preparation. The report also notes that rains have been late and irregular throughout most of the country. Total crop production is forecast to increase by six percent over the same season last year, but the output of pulses - the main source of protein for most Rwandans - is expected to fall by 25 percent. Access to purchased food "has become exceedingly difficult, due to soaring prices," the mission notes, and the food situation is precarious in the prefectures of Kibuye, Gikongoro, Butare, South Kigali and some communes in Gitarama. These areas will need continued food aid as well as input aid. For the whole of 1997, the cereal and pulse deficit is estimated at 192,000 tons, of which 134,000 would be required as food aid. The mission recommends the "immediate" launching of an inputs distribution programme in time for September's preparations for the 1998 season and the creation of an early warning system as a first step to rebuilding the agriculture ministry's statistical base.

* According to a recent USAID Food for Peace and Famine Early Warning System food security report, other factors affecting food production in Rwanda include: "reduced labor migration among returnees due to their continuing wait for mandatory identification cards, and the jailing of many men, suspected of involvement of the genocide, who normally would be farming; and insecurity in the western region of Rwanda."

* UNHCR's Pam O'Toole today said that although access to Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC has improved - "partially because there are fewer military operations going on" - the agency still experiences "a few problems with access" from the authorities. In a briefing in Geneva, O'Toole noted that around 200,000 Rwandan refugees are still unaccounted for. "Of course we are deeply concerned about them," she said, as search and rescue operations were finding smaller concentrations of refugees to repatriate than a few months ago. Some may not want to be found, she acknowledged, but added: "we do fear that many, many others may have died after being forced into the rainforest from refugee camps."

* Sources in eastern DRC report that the North Kivu Provincial Security Committee has, for the first time, publicly acknowledged that undisciplined elements of the army and police have been responsible for some of the insecurity in Goma. Previously, provincial authorities had attributed all such incidents to the ex-FAR or Interahamwe. The provincial authorities are in the process of creating barracks north of Goma for all soldiers and police who are now scattered in residences throughout the town.

* The nutritional status of internally-displaced Congolese in the Fizi area of South Kivu is "very poor" with many people suffering from malnutrition, according to humanitarian sources. The displaced have fled fighting south of Fizi. Existing nutritional centres in Fizi are reportedly lacking food supplies, basic materials and trained personnel, humanitarian sources report.

* UNHCR had evacuated a total of 160 Rwandan refugees by yesterday from Amisi in Kasese, eastern DRC, on the third day of its latest air operation. From Amisi, 52 refugees were then repatriated to Cyangugu by Buffalo, leaving 108 persons in the Amisi transit centre. Another 60 refugees are expected to be flown out of Kasese today. The profile of the airlifted group is: 31 men, 43 women, 51 children, and 35 unaccompanied children. UNHCR is considering a "small compensation package" for the communities that sheltered the refugees over the last months.

* Provisions have been sent to a re-education camp in Kitona, Western DRC, where thousands of ex-FAZ soldiers were reportedly protesting over conditions. The situation is now "relatively calm" after Reuters reported three deaths in disturbances over lack of food and proper sanitation which had caused an outbreak of disease.

* A joint UN/NGO/DRC mission to evaluate the situation of Ugandan refugees around Beni at the tip of northern Kivu has found only seven families. The Ugandans are all in good physical condition and integrated with Congolese families. The team received reports of up to 500 refugees in Kamango, a remote enclave surrounded on the DRC side of the border by the National Park of the Virungas. Previously there were thought to be as many as 5,000 refugees in Kamango. There have been unconfirmed reports that some refugees have returned to Uganda because the situation had calmed and there was no food to sustain them in Congo.

* Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels abducted 18 people Saturday from Dzaipi village near Pakele, northern Uganda, humanitarian sources have confirmed. The abductees, all Ugandan nationals, were marched south to join a larger LRA formation, according to witnesses who managed to escape.

* Sudanese rebels announced the capture of two key towns in southern Sudan yesterday, saying they had opened a new front in Upper Nile state. Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman in Asmara, Yassir Arman, told AFP that the capture of Tindilo in Eastern Equatoria state removed the last government bastion before Juba, the main city in the south. He said nine SPLA divisions captured the Upper Nile garrison town of Ayod on Sunday with the aid of Nuer tribesmen and other southerners opposed to a recent peace agreement between the Khartoum regime and seven southern splinter groups.

[IRIN's weekly information exchange meetings continue to be held every Wednesday at 9:00 am at the IRIN office in Gigiri, Nairobi. All humanitarian agencies are welcome.]

Nairobi, July 15 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: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 18:24:29 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 211 for 15 July 1997 97.7.15 Message-ID: <>

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

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