Great Lakes: IRIN Update 219, 7/29/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 219, 7/29/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 219 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 29 July 1997)

* Over 400 people have fled areas in Burundi's Bubanza province to escape fighting between rival Hutu groups. The BBC's Kirundi service reported that clashes last week between the Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People (Palipehutu) and the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) in Buvyuko zone had also led to the burning of 20 houses. The provincial governor said government soldiers had surrounded the area to ensure fighting did not spread to other areas.

* President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi returned from a day visit to Addis Ababa last night. He told Burundi radio the main reason for the trip was to discuss the peace process in his country with Ethiopian leaders and obtain their support. He described the visit as a sign that cooperation was resuming in all areas and said Ethiopia had agreed to do everything possible to ease the sanctions against Burundi.

* UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Mohamed Sahnoun, who had talks with Buyoya in Bujumbura on Sunday, described their meeting as very thorough. He said he believed Buyoya was serious in wanting to negotiate with the rebel CNDD.

Sahnoun arrived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, yesterday, and today began consultations with Burundi mediator Julius Nyerere on planned Burundi all-party talks, scheduled for next month in Arusha. Nyerere was also due to meet foreign envoys today, aimed at setting a date for the Arusha talks.

* Police in Kenya denied that Rwandans and Burundians were the target of a crackdown on foreigners in the country. In an interview with Kenyan television yesterday, a senior police official said 600 people had been arrested in a two-week operation but none of these had been handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. They were currently being screened by the immigration department and those with the correct papers would be released. He added that crime had reduced "drastically" since the arrests. Kenyan police had earlier arrested key Rwandan genocide suspects and handed them over for trial.

* Rwanda and Zambia have expressed satisfaction with relations between the two countries and resolved to strengthen them further. A joint statement signed by President Pasteur Bizimungu and his visiting Zambian counterpart Frederick Chiluba yesterday described bilateral talks as "fruitful". Bizimungu hailed the fact that Zambia was the first country to extradite genocide suspects. Both countries were pleased with recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statement added.

* The International Committee of the Red Cross says 21,183 unaccompanied children have been registered in Rwanda since November 1996, and estimates that some 80 percent have been reunited with their families, AFP reported. The ICRC believes many parents registered their children as non-accompanied in the hope of finding aid for them and the children rediscovered their families alone. Officially, there have been 12,381 family reunions, AFP said. [Please note IRIN has issued a special feature on unaccompanied children, dated 30 July 1997]

* DRC and Tanzania have agreed on the repatriation of 90,000 ex-Zaire refugees from Tanzania, Reuters reported. A joint statement, issued in Kinshasa Sunday after talks between DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, said the voluntary repatriation was to be carried out in coordination with UNHCR "with immediate effect".

* Kabila has warned of tougher and tougher action against political opponents. His warning comes after security forces reportedly killed up to three demonstrators in Kinshasa as they opened fire to disperse opposition protests last week. According to Associated Press, Kabila reiterated a ban on opposition demonstrations and said that political leaders alone "carry the responsibility of those who fall from bullets". A spokesman for the opposition PALU party said 54 of its members were in detention. Reuters reported Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo as saying there had been no deaths.

* The French foreign affairs ministry said yesterday it was unaware of the arrival of the DRC Economy Minister Pierre-Victor Mpoyo, announced by President Kabila on Sunday. In his announcement, Kabila had said relations with France were being "normalised". Earlier, Reconstruction and Urgent Works Minister Etienne Richard Mbaya had accused France of "destabilising" the DRC government, saying it was behind a UN report alleging DRC soldiers had massacred Rwandan refugees in the country, AFP reported.

* Portugal has ruled out a military withdrawal from Angola where tension is heightening. Defence Minister Antonio Vitorino said nothing justified the pullout of his country's troops from the UN peacekeeping force. Fighting between the Angolan army and the former rebel UNITA movement has flared up over the past two weeks, shortly after the UN Security Council decided to set up a reduced observer mission to take over from UNAVEM-III. UNITA meanwhile voiced concern over reported plans by the USA to sell weapons to the Angolan armed forces. The movement's radio today reported UNITA sources as saying the plans "will do nothing for the Lusaka Protocol's [peace deal between UNITA and Angolan government] implementation, particularly at a time when the government is resorting to belligerent, rather than peacemaking, behaviour".

* UNHCR said today it was dispatching emergency relief assistance to 1,466 Rwandan refugees who had arrived in Angola's eastern border town of Luau, in UNITA-controlled territory. More refugees were arriving in the town and many were said to be in poor health. Sick and malnourished women and children have reportedly been left behind in the forests, unable to make the trip after travelling over the past nine months across DRC from camps in Bukavu, Goma and Uvira. UNHCR said it expected the final figure of refugees into Angola to be between 2,500 and 3,000.

* A pro-government southern Sudan faction claimed it had taken the town of Akon from the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The official Sudanese daily Al-Anba yesterday quoted faction leader Kerubino Kuwanyin Bol as saying the town was back in government hands. However, the paper did not say when the town had been lost or when it was regained, according to AP. Akon is about 100 kms north of Wau, a major city controlled by Khartoum.

* A meeting in south Sudan last week between the SPLA and the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) reaffirmed their commitment to the liberation of the south Sudan people. The meeting was attended by SPLA leader John Garang and according to an NSCC press release, both parties recognised their distinct identities and responsibilities in bringing peace to south Sudan.

Nairobi, 29 July 1997, 15:00 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, 29 Jul 1997 18:00:55 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 219 for 29 June 1997 97.7.29 Message-ID: <>

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

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