Great Lakes: IRIN Update 250, 9/17/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 250, 9/17/97

IRIN Emergency Update No. 250 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday, 17 September 97)


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

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for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 250 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday, 17 September 97)

GREAT LAKES: Red Cross death toll "staggering"

Twenty-eight Red Cross movement workers have been killed in the Great Lakes region in a little over a year. "It is a staggering loss of life," a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told IRIN. "We're seeing a blatant disrespect for the emblem which is very disturbing indeed." The latest deaths occurred in Rwanda on Friday when two national society staff were ambushed on the road between Nkamira and Gisenyi in the northwest of the country. The Red Cross workers and an official of the ministry of youth they were escorting to hospital were shot and stabbed to death, and then robbed. The vehicle they were travelling in was clearly marked with the Rwandan Red Cross (RRC) emblem. The RRC is active in Gisenyi, recently providing assistance to the survivors of the Rwandan rebel attack on the Mudende refugee camp on 21 August.

The largest toll of Red Cross workers over the past year has been in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). Ten national society staff were killed trying to evacuate wounded from the frontline outside Kinshasa in May. The scale of fatalities "is a phenomenon we have not seen before the 1990s," the spokesman said. "It has been a shock to the Red Cross movement."

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: EU's Bonino condemns government

European Union Humanitarian Affairs Commissioner Emma Bonino said she was "discouraged but not surprised" by the DRC's failure to allow the UN investigative team access to alleged massacre sites. In an interview with French radio Radio France Internationale today (Wednesday), she said "if nothing has been hidden, you do not set up these obstacles." The EU commissioner added: "what is also very, very annoying and, I find, intolerable is the way the international community puts up with this contempt."

DRC Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha said in Brussels today the mission had already made up its mind. "We have noticed that this (UN) mission has already drawn its conclusions. We will not accept a situation whereby a report is issued before a mission is carried out," he told the radio station. DRC Planning and Reconstruction Minister Etienne Mbaya said the government was "amazed" that the UN team planned to visit Mbandaka in the northwest of the country rather than the eastern region stipulated in the agreement reached before the commission's arrival in Kinshasa. "As a responsible government we cannot help them to violate the rules and regulations worked out with the UN for the investigation," he told Reuters on Tuesday. "We will not be bothered if they withdraw."

"Free media, media for all"

The local press freedom NGO 'Medias Libre; Medias pour Tous' has declared tomorrow "a day without newspapers" in protest over the arrest of 'Le Phare' editor, Polydor Muboyayi Mubanga. The paper had published an article alleging that President Laurent-Desire Kabila was organising a Mobutu-style presidential guard. A statement by the NGO, carried by most Kinshasa newspapers on Tuesday, called for demonstrations on 22 September to protest the arrest.

More refugees return home, Goma reported quiet

A third repatriation of Congolese refugees from Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika to Uvira has taken place without incident, the UNHCR told IRIN. The agency said this took the total number of refugees who had now left from Kigoma to 1,664. It added taht around 18,000 refugees from Nyaragusu and Lugufu camps had now registered to return. Meanwhile, aid workers reported the eastern DRC town of Goma was more peaceful than for several days. Local sources said the reason was the arrival of army reinforcements in the town and the arrest of errant soldiers. RWANDA: Tribunal extends detentions

The UN International Tribunal for Rwanda has extended the detention of six genocide suspects, including a former Rwandan prime minister, held in Arusha, Tanzania to enable the prosecution to finalise its investigations. It is the third and final extension the court can grant before indictments are either confirmed or dropped on the accused, arrested in Nairobi in July. The six suspects are: Jean Kambanda, Rwandan premier during the 1994 genocide; Hassan Ngeze, former editor-in-chief of 'Kangura' newspaper; Gratien Kabiligi, an ex-general in the Rwandan army's General Staff; Sylvain Nsabimana, a former prefect of Butara; Aloya Ntabakuze who commanded the army's para-commando battalion and Georges Ruggiu, a Belgian of Italian origin who was a journalist at the notorious Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines.

ANGOLA: Military reported buying arms in east Europe

The Angolan government has recently received a first shipment of weapons and aircraft from eastern Europe to re-equip the military, AFP said the Portuguese daily Diario Economico reported on Monday. An unnamed Angolan military source told the paper that "the operation is aimed at re-equipping the army particularly with a view to border control". The delivery of weapons including heavy artillery and shells, MI-17 helicopters and MiG-23 warplanes was part of a package worth more than 100 million dollars, negotiated in "deepest secrecy with prior advice to the United States", the Portuguese daily said. AFRICA: Belgium's farewell to arms

Belgium has renounced future military intervention in Africa, according to the Brussels daily 'Le Soir'. "Belgium won't be involved anymore in military operations in Africa, but is ready to support efforts of the (African) continent countries," Foreign Minister Erik Derycke reportedly said earlier this month.

Nairobi, 17 September 1997, 17:0O gmt [ENDS]

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Date: Wed, 17 Sep 1997 18:57:40 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 250 for 17 Sep 1997 97.9.17 Message-ID: <>

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

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