Great Lakes: IRIN Update 237, 8/27/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 237, 8/27/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 237 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 28 August 1997)


* The French daily 'Le Monde' has claimed that US military experts provided the Rwandan army with guerrilla and counter-insurgency training. The article in today's paper was allegedly based on a Pentagon document obtained by 'Le Monde'. The report says that US military assistance began in 1994 and was limited to demining, military justice and English courses. In 1996 however, a new type of programme, known as "joint/combined exchange training", brought "special forces" instructors to lead 30 Rwandan soldiers in small unit tactics, land navigation, first aid and basic marksmanship. At the end of 1996, while Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) troops were advancing through the then eastern Zaire, a US military "civilian affairs" unit trained Rwandan troops and gendarmerie to plan and implement operations. Currently, the US is providing 60 Rwandan officers with command technique skills, the newspaper said.

Claude Dusaidi, the political adviser to Rwanda's Vice President Paul Kagame, described 'Le Monde's' claims as "baseless". While acknowledging that the US had provided training in demining and justice-related issues, "I don't think the Rwandan army needs any training in guerrilla warfare. We've been fighting for 20 years. If anything, the Americans need training from us." He said the article was an attempt by "some European powers to balance their crimes by smearing the image of America in the Great Lakes." He said that behind the smear campaign was France "which could not accept" that it had been defeated in Rwanda and Zaire "by an African army". Dusaidi added: "we defeated them and we can do it again." Responding to the claim that Rwanda had passed on its newly acquired military training to the ADFL, he noted: "it's fair to say we passed on the knowledge we've learnt in 20 years of guerrilla warfare."

* A Rwandan government statement said the death toll from last week's massacre of DRC Tutsi refugees in northwestern Rwanda has risen from 131 to 148. The foreign ministry release reported by Radio Rwanda described the killings at Mudende camp in Gisenyi prefecture as "a continuation of the genocide". It blamed Hutu rebels based across the border in the DRC for the massacre, and civilian accomplices among the Hutu population. Half of the 8,000 refugees at Mudende fled the attack and some are slowly returning. The refugees were originally from Masisi in eastern DRC. Claude Dusaidi, the political adviser to Vice President Paul Kagame, said the security situation in the region was "getting under control". He however noted, "if you have a million people coming back, people who've been indoctrinated for years that you have to kill Tutsis, I am not surprised that they are killing Tutsis." Dusaidi slammed international human rights groups that have accused the army of killing civilians during counter-insurgency operations in the region. "Their informers are Interahamwe", he said.

* WFP has closed down its office in Rwanda's Gisenyi prefecture. WFP is reducing its offices countrywide from 11 to three as it moves from emergency relief to development aid. The agency will still provide emergency food assistance to IDPs affected by insecurity, but will end the delivery of monthly food packages. At the height of the six month operation, the food packages were feeding 1.5 million people to tide them over to the next harvest. WFP says the returning refugees have settled in their home communes and the most vulnerable will now be targeted through food-for-work programmes.

BURUNDI * A Burundian army spokesman has denied claims by a Tanzanian newspaper that Tanzanian troops killed 20 Burundian soldiers in a border clash last week. In a BBC Kirundi interview yesterday, the army spokesman said, "this is not true at all. No Burundian soldier was killed." The Tanzanian Kiswahili daily 'Majira' quoted unnamed security sources as claiming that the Burundian troops had been laying mines and were ambushed Friday by a Tanzanian border patrol. The paper however acknowledged that the regional commissioner in Kigoma, where the incident is said to have taken place, had denied the report. In a separate interview on the BBC Africa service, a Burundian army spokesman claimed there was no tension along the frontier "because military authorities from Burundi and from Tanzania are meeting to have the border controlled on each side." He was responding to a warning Tuesday by Tanzanian Prime Minister, Frederick Sumaye, who said that Tanzania would "retaliate with all our strength" if provoked. Sumaye's threat was the latest broadside in a war of words between the two countries. Bujumbura accuses Tanzania of sheltering Hutu rebels among the refugee population and Dar-es-Salaam has responded by promising a counter-strike should Burundian troops cross the border.

* Two people were killed and several wounded in an attack on a bar on the outskirts of the Burundian capital today by an "armed gang". Radio Burundi reported that two of the injured, a colonel and a judge, were in a serious condition. On Tuesday night, two people were killed and six injured when a pick-up truck detonated an anti-tank mine on the road between Tora and Muyama in Burundi's southern Bururi province.


* A coalition of DRC human rights groups has expressed concern over the "wave of arrests" of former top officials of the Zairean regime, currently numbering 37, who are being held in "deplorable and inhumane" conditions. At a press conference in Kinshasa yesterday, the seven groups pointed out that the arrests had been carried out contrary to the laws of the country and some of the detainees were unaware of the charges against them. They claimed that arrests were being carried out "selectively", in that former Mobutu officials originating from Shaba province, the home of current president Laurent Kabila, were left alone. The human rights groups called on the DRC authorities to ensure that the proper legal proceedings were followed and said detainees without a legal case against them should be released.

In a separate statement yesterday, the main DRC rights organisation - Association for the Defence of Human Rights (AZADHO) - criticised the "deteriorating" human rights situation in DRC, which it said was characterised by "growing terror". It noted in particular "systematic repression" by the local authorities against non-governmental organisations in Maniema province, which it described as a virtual enclave due to the scarcity of air traffic and practically no road infrastructure. AZADHO claimed the intimidation campaign was aimed at preventing NGOs and the local population from testifying to the UN human rights investigation team probing alleged refugee massacres.

AZADHO human rights organisation today issued a statement saying one student was killed and 15 injured when security forces opened fire on a student demonstration in Kinshasa on Tuesday. Police inspector Raus Chalwe told Reuters earlier there had been trouble at the university campus, and blamed students for the incident saying they had provoked the military by throwing stones at two soldiers trying to take a short cut through the campus. Witnesses said one of the two soldiers had fired into the ground, drawing the attention of 20 other troops who rushed in and opened fire. SUDAN

* Humanitarian sources describe the situation in Sudan's Nuba mountains as "critical". Since March, some 30,000 people have been displaced by the army from the rebel-controlled agriculturally-rich plains into the mountains. They are scattered among families whose own food stocks have been depleted by poor rains earlier in the year which reduced the maize harvest. The displaced are adding to the pressure on what is marginal land at the best of times. According to one source, the government army is conducting a "war of attrition centred on food production". The plains, sandwiched between the Tira Akhdar and Tira Limon mountains in Kordofan, had been reportedly under the control of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Government forces, by attacking villages, sealing off the mountains and disrupting trade, are basically "starving people" into government-held towns and 'protected' villages, sources claim. In the current rainy season, the SPLA is expected to attempt to take back the plains and particularly a strategic all-weather airstrip which is now within government shelling range.

* UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Yasushi Akashi, tomorrow concludes a six day visit to Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda to review and assess humanitarian assistance issues in the Great Lakes region, Somalia and Sudan. During the course of his visit, Akashi met Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, Rwandan Vice President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame, as well as UN agency heads, NGOs and donors.

Nairobi, 28 August 1997, 16:00 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: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 19:16:58 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 237 for 28 Aug 1997 97.8.28 Message-ID: <>

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

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