Great Lakes: IRIN Update 241, 9/4/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 241, 9/4/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 241 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 4 September 1997)

BURUNDI: African leaders start summit on Burundi crisis

* African leaders met in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania today (Thursday) at a regional summit called over the crisis in strife-torn Burundi, news organisations reported. A Tanzanian official said the talks would discuss ways of bringing Burundi back to the negotiating table. AFP reported Tanzanian presidential spokesman Patrick Chokala as saying the talks would centre on the rejection by Burundi's military leader Major Pierre Buyoya of Tanzania's elder statesman Julius Nyerere as the mediator in the Burundian conflict. Reuters said the regional leaders would discuss extending sanctions imposed on the country over one year ago after a military coup. It added, however, that Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi had stayed away form the meeting in anger at countries he accuses of demanding tough measures which they then fail to enforce. Regional experts say that without Kenya's presence such decisions are unlikely and would be meaningless if the most important economy in the region was not actively involved.

The joint UN/OAU Representative for the Great Lakes region Mohamed Sahnoun attended the meeting which also brought together Presidents Laurent-Desire Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim was also present. Burundians seek refuge in Mozambique, others return from Rwanda

* A total of 85 Burundians fleeing conflict in the central African state have sought refuge in Mozambique's northernmost province of Niassa, Mozambican radio reported, quoting the country's official news agency, AIM, on Wednesday. The radio quoted one of the refugees as saying they had reached southern Africa via Tanzania and Malawi, neither of which were willing to grant them refugee status. The radio said those coming from Tanzania had crossed the Ruvuma River into Sanga District while those coming from Malawi had taken boats across Lake Niassa to Lago District. UNHCR told IRIN 1,725 Burundian refugees from a camp in Gikongoro in southwest Rwanda had been rapatriated to Burundi between 25 August and 2 September. It said a further 161 had remained in a transit camp after they said they did not wish to be returned and will now be interviewed by protection officers.

Amnesty expresses concern over detained FRODEBU member * Amnesty International has expressed concern over the fate of a doctor and member of the former ruling party FRODEBU (Front pour la Democratie au Burundi). Doctor Sylvere Sakubu was arrested by soldiers at his home on August 29, shortly before he was due to leave for China, via Rwanda, to continue his studies. Amnesty International said it feared Sakubu had been arrested because of his membership of FRODEBU, the party of former president Melchior Ndadaye who was assassinated in a coup attempt in October 1993. Sakubu is reportedly being held at Socrati detention centre where Amnesty International fears he will be tortured.

DRC: UN mission yet to start work

* The UN human rights investigative mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire), which finally received the green light from the authorities earlier this week, has yet to start work. Juan Carlos Brandt, associate spokesman for the Secretary-General, said "coordination problems at the government's end" had prevented delivery of the formal letter of approval from DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. He told the daily press briefing in New York yesterday (Wednesday) the mission was "ready and eager" to get going and would do so "as soon as the letter is delivered". Security Council President, US Ambassador Bill Richardson, whose country threatened this week to reconsider its policy towards Kabila's government if it hampered the UN mission, said nevertheless preliminary indications suggested progress had been made. "Members of the Council express strong hope that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will continue to cooperate fully with the Security Council," he said.

More refugees set to return from Tanzania

* UNHCR told IRIN that following the successful repatriation of 573 Congolese refugees by boat from Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika to the port city of Uvira on Wednesday, it was now planning to repatriate up to a further 600 on Saturday. A UNHCR spokesman in Geneva said that up to 1,200 returnees were expected to be repatriated each week and said the figure could rise to between 4,000-5,000 after a second ferry has been repaired. Congolese radio reported some 5,000 of about 70,000 refugees who fled fighting to Tanzania had now returned to Uvira. UNHCR sources told IRIN said they thought the figure for voluntary repatriations was double that.

WHO declares end to meningitis epidemic

* The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an end to a meningitis epidemic in the DRC, which killed almost 200 people. IPS news agency reported from Geneva that WHO said the situation was under control largely thanks to the use of vaccines, medicine and equipment provided by the UN agency. More than 1,200 cases of meningitis, 16 percent fatal, were reported so far this year in various areas of the DRC, especially in the eastern part of the country. Most of 191 deaths occurred in June, July and August, said WHO officials.

RWANDA: Villagers attacked in northeast

* As many as 21 civilians were killed in attacks against four villages in the Byumba region of north-eastern Rwanda last week, the French news agency AFP reported. It said yesterday (Wednesday) 11 villagers were massacred by unidentified assailants on the night of August 26 and 10 more the following night. No official confirmation of the report was available. Former minister becomes first woman to appear at International Tribunal

* A former government minister, Pauline Nyiaramasuhuko, has become the first woman to appear as a suspect before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. Nyiramasuhuko, 51, who has been charged with genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity, was minister of family affairs and gender promotion in an interim government created after the 1994 death of former president Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash, according to a report from Arusha by the media NGO Fondation Hirondelle. She has pleaded not guilty. A UN spokesman said the date of the trial would be set following the convening of a status conference. The former minister's son, Arsene Shalome Ntahobari, who also appeared before the Chamber on the same charges, declined to plead because his assigned counsel was not present. At 27, he is the youngest person so far accused by the ICTR of involvement in the genocide. UNICEF say thousands of children now head families

* According to a survey conducted recently by UNICEF and the Rwandan authorities, there are some 85,000 children in the country who now head their families. A UNICEF spokesman said these children assumed the position as a result of the genocide, refugee situations or illness. "We found out about this vast number of child-headed households when we were looking for foster families for unaccompanied children," the spokesman told reporters in Geneva. He said the children ranged in age from seven to 21. [For further information on unaccompanied children see IRIN special feature of 30 July 1997]

ANGOLA: Savimbi accused of plotting assassinations

* Angolan television has accused Jonas Savimbi, leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola [UNITA], of drawing up a a plan to eliminate Angolan political leaders, including government officials, MPs and senior Angolan Armed Forces officers. The report, broadcast by Televisao Popular de Angola yesterday (Wednesday), said Internal Security Minister Fernando Miala would be the first target of an action to be carried out between 7th and 9th September. Tension between the government and Savimbi, whose UNITA former rebel movement has failed to fully implement the Lusaka peace protocol which ended the country's civil war in 1994, has been growing in recent months. AFP quoted a UNITA official as saying the allegations were "stupid and totally without foundation." Meanwhile, in a separate report AFP quoted the Angolan radio station Luanda Antena Commercial as saying Moroccan mercenaries were training former UNITA rebels in their stronghold around the central town of Bailundo. Last week, the UN Security Council imposed air and travel sanctions against UNITA, as well as ordering the closure of the movement's offices abroad. The sanctions will go into effect on September 30, unless UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan certifies that UNITA has taken "concrete and irreversible steps" to fulfil its obligations under the Lusaka peace accord. Regional experts say one of the catalysts of the current stand-off between the UN and UNITA was the fall of former president Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire and the subsequent movement of UNITA and former-Zairean forces from south-eastern Zaire into Angola. Nairobi, 4 September 1997, 15:45 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, 4 Sep 1997 18:38:42 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 241 for 4 Sep 1997 97.9.4 Message-ID: <>

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

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