Great Lakes: IRIN Update 242, 9/5/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 242, 9/5/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 242 on the Great Lakes (Friday 5 September 1997)

DRC: UNHCR condemns expulsion of refugees

* Soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) forcibly expelled some 700 Rwandan and Burundian refugees after surrounding their UNHCR transit centre in Kisangani. In a statement issued in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata strongly condemned the expulsion, saying "it shows a wanton disregard for basic rights and represents a blatant breach of international [refugee] treaties." Ogata sent a protest letter to DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. The refugees were flown to Kigali, AFP reported. Humanitarian sources contacted by IRIN expressed concern that the Kisangani expulsions might be the first of a series of government actions to close down more refugee operations.

Insecurity in Eastern DRC

* An estimated 5,000 people fled to Goma last week as the security situation in Masisi, northwest of Goma town, seriously deterioriated, WFP reported. They are mainly Tutsi who were displaced at Mushaki. There were also reports of heavy fighting in the area. The Congolese Press Agency (ACP) described the situation as "unstable" due to the resurgence of activity by a "few Mai-Mai pockets of resistance". Humanitarian sources said that the picture was "pretty grim". They confirmed the fighting in Masisi and said that the hospital had been "pillaged". The local authorities are alleged to have done little to calm the situation, according to the sources. The displaced people said that most of their belongings were looted. The Ministry of Reconstruction and Emergency Planning officially contacted NGOs and UN agencies in eastern Zaire to stress that displaced people from Masisi urgently needed assistance. The agencies have asked the government to authorise access to the main sites. Goma is reportedly very tense. Shooting was heard last night but no explanation was given.

UN human rights mission condemns "obstacles"

* The UN human rights investigative mission, on Thursday, condemned the DRC government's continuing "obstacles" to its investigation, AFP reported. The Togolese head of mission, Koffi Amega, told AFP that the government had refused to confirm in writing DRC Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo's verbal undertaking to the UN Secretary-General that the DRC had lifted all objections to the mission. Amega said it was going to be difficult to work under such conditions. He had reported to the Secretary-General and was waiting for his reply. Meanwhile, the mission would remain in Kinshasa.

Zairean human rights body condemns army "urban terrorism"

* A Zairean human rights organisation, AZADO, sent a letter to Kabila condemning the "urban terrorism" by members of the DRC army at Kinshasa's university campus, the Kinshasa newspaper 'Le Phare' reported. It calls for all soldiers to be confined to their barracks, for independent military courts and the creation of a single national army.

BURUNDI: Nyerere to stay as mediator, summit decides

* African leaders at the Dar es Salaam regional summit on the Burundi crisis yesterday (Thursday) agreed that Tanzania's elder statesman Julius Nyerere should continue as mediator in the Burundi conflict. Regional analysts say, however, that other advisers and envoys are likely to play a much greater role in the mediation process, thus reducing his profile. The summit also decided to maintain sanctions against Burundi. A new secretariat would be set up to monitor sanctions compliance. The summit called on the government of Burundi to halt the current trials of the alleged 1993 coup plotters and to unconditionally release opposition leaders so that they could travel freely and participate in the all-party talks. It also called for the immediate disbanding of the regroupment camps. The heads of state urged Bujumbura to send representatives to the next round of all-party peace talks to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, and warned that it would adopt additional measures to deal with any attempt to obstruct the talks. Burundi's government had pulled out of the talks which were to have opened on 25 August.

CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): Fresh fighting in Congolese capital

* Heavy artillery fire broke out in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, today (Friday) between forces loyal to President Pascal Lissouba and his predecessor, Denis Sassou Nguesso, AFP reported. The fighting had died down for much of Thursday as Gabonese President Omar Bongo continued efforts to mediate a transitional agreement leading up to presidential elections in Congo. Sassou Nguesso's supporters claim that the current proposals reinforce Lissouba's powers. They have also demanded the post of prime minister in any transitional government. Meanwhile, Lissouba went to France on Thursday for a private visit following his talks with Bongo in Libreville.

National Assembly slams "foreign interference"

* Congo's national assembly, on Thursday, denounced interference by the French oil company Elf-Aquitaine and "great powers and neighbouring countries" in the Congo's political crisis, according to AFP. Speaking on official radio, Assembly spokesman Saturnin Okabe criticised "past, present and future foreign interference" but did not specify to which foreign country he was referring. The national assembly meeting was not attended by deputies from Denis Sassou Nguesso's United Democratic Forces, FDU. The national assembly meeting denounced "the silence of the Congolese political class, the international community of African countries", AFP added.

SUDAN: Government says military situation "stable"

* The official Sudanese armed forces spokesman, General Muhammad al-Sanusi Ahmad, told the Sudanese news agency that the military situation on all fronts was stable despite "limited clashes" in Equatoria, Bahr al-Ghazal, Upper Nile and South Kordofan. Commenting on reports that Eritrean forces are massing, he warned that any attack would be decisively foiled by the armed forces. On his return to Khartoum on Wednesday, President Omar al-Bashir said that he expected a "break-through" in relations with Uganda soon, the Sudanese news agency reported.

UN rights official in Khartoum

* Visiting UN human rights rapporteur Gaspar Biro met government officials and former rebels in south Sudan to assess the human rights situation in Sudan, AFP reported. Biro met State Foreign Minister Gabriel Rorec and Arok Thon Arok of the United Democratic Salvation Front grouping of the south Sudanese factions that concluded a peace accord with the government in April. Arok was quoted as telling Biro in a separate meeting that the war had to be halted and normal life resumed before there could be talk of respect for human rights.

AFRICA: UN Security Council to hold meeting on Africa

The Security Council is to hold a ministerial-level meeting on Africa on 25 September, council president Bill Richardson said. He said September should be the month of Africa in the Security Council. The aim was to focus international attention on conflict resolution in Africa and development.

Nairobi, 5 Sep 97, 15:25 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: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 18:25:57 -0300 (GMT+3) From: Ben Parker <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 242 for 5 Sep 1997 97.9.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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