Great Lakes: IRIN Update 245, 9/10/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 245, 9/10/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 245 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 10 September 1997)


In announcing the suspension of UNHCR activities in DRC with regard to Rwandan refugees, High Commissioner Sadako Ogata yesterday (Tuesday) said the decision was prompted in part by a deteriorating respect for human rights and humanitarian principles by some regional governments. In her briefing to the Security Council, Ogata also pointed out a gradual deterioration of the security situation in the Great Lakes region. She said operations would be suspended until the DRC government provided guarantees for treating refugees according to humanitarian principles. In this respect, UNHCR offices in Kisangani and Shabunda are to be closed and the agency's presence in Goma and Bukavu will be reduced. UNHCR will remain in Mbandaka to assist Burundian refugees and Rwandan refugees in Congo (Brazzaville). The DRC authorities last week forcibly repatriated to Kigali Rwandan and Burundian refugees remaining in Kisangani.

Rwanda condemns UNHCR move

Rwanda condemned the move by UNHCR, describing it as "either not informed...or she [Ogata] has some other imaginary reasons behind the whole thing". Spokesman Emmanuel Ndahiro told Reuters the Rwandan authorities would summon the UNHCR representative in Kigali for explanations. Ogata said she would send a high-level delegation to Rwanda to find out what had happened to returning refugees.

Kabila says DRC "complied" with UNHCR requests

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, currently visiting Rwanda, denied his country had expelled the refugees, saying it was only complying with UNHCR requests, AFP reported. He told a press conference early this morning (Wednesday) the DRC "was doing what the UN asked, namely to return the refugees to their country of origin. You can't ask us one day to repatriate the refugees, and the next to keep them."

* DRC: Press notes "resumption of war" in east

DRC press reports continue to write about the "resumption of war" in the east of the country, especially in Kivu. 'La Tempete des Tropiques' said the death toll from fighting between Mai Mai militia and the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) was estimated at 1,000, mostly in the towns of Masisi, Walikale, Kalehe and Goma. It quoted the DRC human rights group AZADHO as saying a reason for the upsurge in violence was the large influx of people coming from Rwanda to the Masisi and Rutshuru areas where they benefited from ADFL support. Coupled with this was the recent nomination of mostly ethnic Tutsis for local government posts. The DRC government has reportedly established a commission of enquiry to deal with the crisis. Humanitarian sources reported the presence of about 2,500 ADFL soldiers in the Kahuzi National park area poised to retake the town of Bunyakiri, northwest of Bukavu, from the Mai-Mai. Unconfirmed reports suggest part of this contingent may be made up of Rwandan soldiers.

* DRC: Opposition journalist detained

The organisation, Reporters Sans Frontieres, has expressed concern over the detention of an opposition journalist by the DRC authorities. The rights group said Polydor Moboyayi Mubanga, director of 'Le Phare' daily, was arrested at his home on Monday by four armed men in uniform. He is reportedly being held at Gombe county court in poor conditions. RSF noted that on 5 September, 'Le Phare' had published an article entitiled "Kabila is preparing his DSP", alleging that the DRC leader wanted to create a new elite presidential guard, similar to ex-Zairean leader Mobutu's Special Presidential Division (DSP).

* DRC: Human rights team hopeful of starting work

The UN human rights investigative mission hoped to leave Kinshasa today on its first field trip, according to a UN spokesman. He said the team would be deployed in stages, with security and forensic experts leaving first. The team had sent a letter to Richard Etienne Mbaya, Reconstruction and Emergency Relief Minister, to discuss travel to the field, and a reply was awaited.

* RWANDA: Probe "political", Kabila says

Claude Dusaidi, adviser to Vice-President Paul Kagame, said Kabila had told the Rwandan authorities he viewed the UN investigation in DRC as a political rather than a human rights mission. According to Reuters, Dusaidi quoted Kabila as saying the UN team members "seem not to know what they want".

* Kabila hails Rwandan role in "liberating" DRC

During his visit to Kigali, President Kabila thanked Rwanda for helping "liberate" his country. Rwandan radio said he told a state banquet in his honour on Monday night the major problem now facing DRC were the demands of the international community "which is pressuring him to do things in a very short time". Kabila said his country would not bow to international pressure but would "concentrate on achieving what can help the Congolese people". In his speech, Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu noted that the liberation of Rwanda would not have made much sense "without the total liberation of the Democratic Republic of Congo". He said there had been "unwarranted attacks" against the DRC government "hardly before it set foot in office".

* BURUNDI: Disbanding of regroupment camps continues

The return home of regrouped people in Kayanza province is continuing, humanitarian sources report. Between 20 August and 3 September, a total of 16,691 people had begun leaving Ruhinga, Karehe, Buraniro and Nyarurama camps in Rango and Butaganzwa communes. Meanwhile, the construction of two out of three new airstrips has been completed in Karuzi and Muyinga. A third airstrip is being built in Ruyigi and should be finished by the end of October. The strips are OFDA-funded and WFP-built.

* Ogata warns against militarisation of refugee camps

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, warned against the militarisation of Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania. In her Security Council briefing, she said paramilitary activities had not been observed in camps assisted by UNHCR, but pointed out that the "development of a situation similar to the one we witnessed in the former eastern Zaire is possible and must be avoided at all costs."

* UGANDA: Museveni explains decision to keep Burundi embargo

President Yoweri Museveni explained that regional leaders decided to maintain sanctions on Burundi until the parties involved created a mechanism to ensure democracy and security for all Burundians. Ugandan radio said he called for an end to the "current mentality among the majority Hutus that they can be in power through the elimination of the minority Tutsis, while the Tutsis think they can remain in power through force and denial of democracy". He made the comments yesterday during talks with the EU envoy to Uganda.

* TANZANIA: Airline banned from Tanzanian airspace

A private Kenyan carrier, African Airlines International, has been banned from Tanzanian airspace because it made a sanctions-busting flight to Burundi, the 'EastAfrican' weekly reported. It quoted a Tanzanian foreign ministry spokesman as saying it seemed the airline "deliberately tried to mislead Tanzania about its destination". The airline had apparently said it was flying to DRC.

* CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): Kinshasa/Brazzaville border to stay shut

The DRC authorities have announced that the border between Kinshasa and Brazzaville is to remain closed for security reasons, according to DRC television. Only refugees and other disaster victims from Brazzaville were exempt. Anyone found violating the ruling would be severely punished, the television warned.

* Sassou Nguesso urged to join new government

Meanwhile, Brazzaville mayor Bernard Kolelas who was named premier of a national unity government, urged former president Denis Sassou Nguesso to join the new authorities. Interviewed by national radio yesterday, Kolelas said the government should comprise representatives of the country's political groups and of civil society. A UN spokesman accused President Pascal Lissouba of acting unilaterally in appointing Kolelas, pointing out there had been no consultation with mediators or with Sassou Nguesso.

Nairobi, 10 September 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: Wed, 10 Sep 1997 17:59:19 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 245 for 10 Sep 1997 97.9.10 Message-ID: <>

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

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