Great Lakes: IRIN Update 234, 8/22/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 234, 8/22/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 234 on the Great Lakes (Friday 22 August 1997)

* WFP says regrouped people in Burundi's Kayanza province have started returning home. The first returnees are from Ruhinga camp and about a quarter of the people have arrived back at two collines: 945 to Gihororo colline and 1,645 to Ruhinga colline. Ruhinga camp housed a total of approximately 10,000 people and the rest are expected to return to four more collines. The return is being carried out colline by colline according to a government timetable.

However unconfirmed reports speak of people spontaneously leaving regroupment camps for their homes, and WFP points out that this could pose problems for aid agencies as reinstallation packages are only being handed out in accordance with the government's schedule. The packages consist of three months' food items as well as non-food packages comprising essential items such as seeds, tools and blankets. Aid agencies say it is crucial that all returnees should arrive home before the planting season gets underway in September. More than 576,000 people - out of a total population of 5,980,000 - are currently displaced from their homes and living in over 250 sites in Burundi, according to humanitarian sources. About 256,000 of these are categorised as regrouped.

* WFP today began an operation in DRC to airlift 280 MTs of seeds to Bukavu to give tens of thousands of people living in south Kivu a chance to plant before the rains end in a few weeks time. Many of these people were displaced during the war and have only recently returned home. WFP will also provide a month's supply of food packages to families along with the seeds to discourage the hungry from eating them.

* More than 74,000 DRC refugees in Tanzania are to be repatriated under a tripartite agreement signed in Dar es Salaam yesterday between Tanzania, DRC and UNHCR. The repatriation exercise begins next week, Tanzanian radio reported.

* Humanitarian sources say there were armed attacks in the DRC's Fizi area last week, notably on the villages of Sebele and Malinde near Baraka. According to local authorities, the attacks were carried out against military positions by rebels who crossed Lake Tanganyika from Tanzania. Aid agencies had expressed concern that the attacks might affect the repatriation of DRC refugees from Tanzania, but the local population in the Baraka area does not appear to be unduly worried by the incidents and the situation is reportedly calm, sources report.

* DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha met with CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse today to discuss border security concerns. According to AFP, the visit was also to prepare for the repatriation of around 5,000 Congolese civilians and 800 ex-FAZ in CAR.

* Two civilians and a policemen were shot and killed this morning in fresh violence in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa. Kenyan TV said more than 20 raiders armed with swords and guns attacked the Likoni Catholic church compound where 2,500 displaced people are camping. An eyewitness described them as "young boys". The violence has cost 43 lives since 13 August. Police said yesterday that they had arrested 410 people and 108 of them had appeared in court in connection with the unrest. The US Ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, condemned the violence today as "organised and cold-blooded terror." Both the government and the opposition have blamed each other for the killings.

Meanwhile, thirteen western countries yesterday urged the government and opposition to negotiate over constitutional reforms to ensure that forthcoming elections are free and fair. The statement was issued on behalf of the embassies of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the US and the High Commissions of Britain and Canada. The French embassy did not subscribe to the statement "because it was prepared outside the structures of the European Union," AFP reported.

* Sudanese President Omar al Beshir will meet rebel leader John Garang for talks at the end of the month in South Africa, Khartoum's Foreign Minister Ali Osman Mohammed Taha announced yesterday. The talks to be hosted 30-31 August by South African President Nelson Mandela will also involve Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. Taha said the meeting between Bashir and Garang "will not dwell on detailed peace negotiations, but will, rather, seek to narrow the differences between the two sides," Pana reported. However, according to AFP, Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) denied it was "aware of any imminent meeting".

* Sudan has accused the Ugandan government of planning to recruit Sudanese rebels into the African peacekeeping force initiative. The unnamed official quoted by the official 'Al Anbaa' daily yesterday objected to Uganda's involvement in the US-backed African Crisis Response Initiative because the country "is suffering internal disputes and is involved in regional conflicts", AFP reported. US special forces arrived in Uganda last month to train Ugandan troops as part of a programme that includes contingents from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali and Senegal.

* Senator Jesse Helms, the head of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday urged Washington to drop a proposed sale of six C-130 military transport aircraft to the Angolan government. According to AFP, Helms said the sale would cause "further deterioration of the peace process" and would be "interpreted by hardliners within the MPLA as tacit approval of their desire to eliminate the UNITA opposition by violent means." Meanwhile Paul Hare, a special envoy for US President Bill Clinton, arrived in Luanda today in a bid to help salvage a faltering peace process. He is due to hold talks with both President Eduardo dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi.

Nairobi, 22 August 1997, 15:00 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, 22 Aug 1997 17:54:05 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 234 for 22 Aug 1997 97.8.22 Message-ID: <>

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

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