Great Lakes: IRIN Update 233, 8/21/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 233, 8/21/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 233 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 21 August 1997)

* Humanitarian sources in DRC report that repatriation operations in Shabunda, Lulingu and Katshungu have remained "very limited" despite previous reports mentioning the presence to up to 40,000 refugees. One-third of these are believed to be Burundians. Because of the geography of the area, it has never been possible to get a precise evaluation of refugee numbers. They are scattered in small groups around villages and deep into the rainforest. UNHCR has recently used a working figure of 14,000 refugees in this area.

Sources claim that among the Rwandan refugees in these areas there is also an unwillingness to return because of the reports of insecurity in the northwest of the country, from where most of them originate. Currently, 1,500 refugees are in transit centers around Lilungu, but have refused repatriation. Last Friday a UNHCR plane arriving to ferry people to Rwanda had to leave empty. Some NGOs have already started closing down their operations in the area. The local economy is benefiting from the labour and skills the refugees provide, sources note.

* Erstwhile president Mobutu Sese Seko's former ruling MPR party is to be revived. According to a local paper 'Le Salongo' last week, the "new look" MPR aims to provide constructive opposition to the government.

* Tanzania, the DRC and UNHCR today began tripartite talks to prepare the mechanisms for the repatriation of some 90,000 DRC refugees, AFP reported. The meeting followed an agreement concluded during a meeting in Kinshasa last month between Congolese President Laurent-Desire Kabila and Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, during the latter's official visit to the DRC.

* The Malawian government and UNHCR are working out the modalities for the repatriation of around 750 Rwandan and 500 DRC refugees, according to BBC Kinyarwanda radio. The Malawian authorities reportedly said the repatriation decision is based on their assessment that peace now prevails in both countries.

* Approximately 25,000 Congolese refugees have fled across the river to avoid fighting in Congo-Brazzaville and are in the DRC. Of these, around 18,000 are living with relatives and friends in Kinshasa and the remainder at the Lokali farm transit centre located near the airport, according to humanitarian sources. As of 20 August, there were a total of 5,500 refugees at the centre. An average of between 200-400 are arriving daily in Kinshasa by canoe, out of which some 100-150 are willing to go to Kikole.

* Congo-Brazzaville peace talks in Gabon were adjourned for a week yesterday for delegates to study a fresh proposal by President Omar Bongo. The new plan, the fourth so far, tackles the thorny issue of from which party the prime minister in a government of national unity would be drawn, and whether the post entails control of the defence ministry. Meanwhile, state radio said government forces had wrested control of northern parts of the capital from the militia of Denis Sassou Nguesso after days of heavy shelling. Sassou Nguesso however denied the loss and told AFP that the military balance has not changed in a "significant way."

* Angolan government radio said today that no progress has been made in the reinstatement of state administration in UNITA held areas because UNITA had "complicated matters". The process, scheduled to start today, was postponed in several regions when "last-minute hitches" prevented delegations of the two sides from meeting. UNITA radio however said the delays were caused because the authorities had failed "to provide logistical facilities" in some areas.

* Sudan yesterday accused Eritrea of massing troops backed by tanks for an attack across the border into eastern Kassala state. The state capital has also been hit by bomb explosions which the government has blamed on "fifth columnists", news agencies reported. Meanwhile, the rebel Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) has claimed it captured a garrison near the border with Eritrea and Ethiopia Sunday, killing nine government soldiers.

Nairobi, 21 August 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: Thu, 21 Aug 1997 18:03:05 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 233 for 21 Aug 1997 97.8.21 Message-ID: <>

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

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