Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 262, 10/3/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 262, 10/3/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 262 on the Great Lakes (Friday, 3 October 97)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN hopes for deal with Kabila within two weeks

The UN said it hoped to reach a deal with DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila on the deployment into the field of the UN human rights investigative mission within the next two weeks. UN chief spokesman Fred Eckhard told correspondents at UN headquarters in New York yesterday (Thursday) that four members of the team, not three as previously reported, had been recalled for "consultations" and would arrive in New York next Tuesday, 7 October. The four included the three principal investigators - Atsu-Koffi Amega, Reed Brody and Andres Chicovera - and a coordinator, Jose Luis Gomez del Prado. In Kinshasa, AFP quoted Jose Diaz, the spokesman for the rights' probe, as saying the four men would leave the city today (Friday). UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced on Wednesday he was recalling the team from Kinshasa pending "final clarification of the policy of the Democratic Republic of Congo." Eckhard said the UN hoped it would be able to reach agreement "in the next two weeks... on mutually-acceptable terms for the team to get into the field." Annan's decision followed more than four weeks of forced inactivity by the team, despatched to investigate allegations of gross violations of human rights in the country. Eckhard said Kabila had denied press reports he wanted the mission withdrawn and Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha had told the Secretary-General that his government was eager for the team to start work. "We remain hopeful that something can be worked out to allow that to happen," Eckhard said.

UN says Kabila's remarks not main reason for move

Eckhard again stressed Kabila's supposed remarks that he wanted the team withdrawn had not prompted the UN decision, saying the reports by international news agencies were really "just the tip of the iceberg". He said there had been a substantial amount of frustration at the UN over its failure to arrive at a specific agreement with the DRC government on the terms for the team to begin its work. "It was a much bigger problem than that one report," Eckhard told correspondents.

Humanitarian sources say Mai-Mai control much of area north of Bukavu

Humanitarian sources told IRIN that Mai-Mai fighters and allies from other anti-Tutsi factions were by Friday in control of much of the area between Katana, some 45 km north of Bukavu, and Kalehe, a further 20 km to the north. Aid workers who travelled along the road from Bukavu towards Kavumu, the location of Bukavu airport, on Thursday reported seeing few people and said roads and fields were mostly empty. A few soldiers at the airport were quoted as saying the Mai-Mai were in the area and present in the nearby town of Kavumu. Aid workers said the airport was working normally on Friday.

RWANDA: Thousands reported fleeing to Rutshuru

Aid workers reported that thousands of Hutu people have arrived in recent days in the Rutshuru region of north Kivu, fleeing apparent violence in the Rwerere commune in Gisenyi prefecture. More precise details were not currently available, but one authoritative humanitarian source told IRIN the DRC authorities had today closed the Gisenyi-Goma border crossing.

WFP reports increasing food distributions

WFP in Rwanda has reported that the amount of food distributed is increasing. An average of 1,700 mt has been handed out over the last two weeks, taking the total distributed since January to 98,630 mt. Meanwhile, the FAO Rwandan office has reported that "current food distribution is far below the needs estimated last July by FAO and WFP." Food prices have doubled or even tripled in some regions. Some 2.2 million people or 29 percent of the population are registered by the authorities as requiring assistance. Their needs are partially covered by donors, but there is a shortfall of US $1.6 million, the report says.

UGANDA: Government says rebels killed 83 people during September

Ugandan newspapers today quoted military sources as saying at least 83 people were killed and some 30 abducted by anti-government rebels operating in western Uganda during September. AFP quoted the reports as saying the Ugandan army had killed 52 Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels, while 29 civilians died either at the hands of the rebels or in crossfire during the month, for the loss of only two government soldiers. Following a raid by the rebels on a suburb of Kasese town in western Uganda last week, the army stepped up pursuit operations and on Tuesday reported overrunning an ADF hideout in Kitgumba forest in the district.

ADF say they are ready for peace talks

Meanwhile, in a statement sent to IRIN, the ADF rebels said they were ready to open negotiations with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni "whenever he is ready". The two-page statement, signed by ADF Chairman Frank Kithasamba, said the rebels now had the upper hand against the government forces and could "take and occupy at will" the towns of Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kabele, Kabarole, Kisoro, Hoima, Masindi, Ibanda, Mbarara and Mubende. The statement added that the ADF forces were, consequently, not concerned about a joint Ugandan-DRC army offensive against them, but said they understood from their own experience that "he who wins by force has won but half his foe."

LRA rebels dismiss government claims they are in trouble

Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have dismissed Ugandan government assertions their leader Joseph Kony is starving in his hideout in northern Uganda and looking for a way to cross into Kenya, according to IPS. The agency reported an LRA statement yesterday as saying the government claims were "rubbish". Last week, local press reports quoted Brigadier James Kazini, the army's overall commander in northern Uganda, as saying Kony and 300 of his followers had been forced out of bases in southern Sudan and were on the run. The four-page LRA statement carried the group's logo, but not the usual signature of its secretary-general, Dominic S Wanyama, or spokesperson John Obita, both of whom operate from Nairobi, IPS reported.

TANZANIA: Bush fires rage on Mount Kilimanjaro

The UN warned on Friday that bush fires raging on Mount Kilimanjaro had now devastated about 5,000 hectares. The fires, at an altitude of between 2,800-4,000 metres, currently pose no major threat to local populations, but are destroying rare and endangered habitat. The UN, appealing for international help to combat the fires, said government troops lacked adequate equipment.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: DRC soldiers search Kinkole camp

Humanitarian sources reported that on Tuesday 30 September DRC soldiers entered Kinkole refugee camp outside Kinshasa to search for people they said could be linked to recent attacks on the city and detained 41 people. UNHCR was not present when the searches took place and reportedly the organisation does not yet have access to the detainees.

Rival forces battle on

Rival forces battled today for control of Congo's capital Brazzaville, trading artillery fire amid mixed reactions to proposed military intervention by the DRC. AFP reported heavy gunfire could be witnessed in Brazzaville from the capital of Kinshasa. Several shells fired in Brazzaville hit Kinshasa earlier this week causing 21 deaths. Meanwhile, the contested premier of Congo, Bernard Kolelas, yesterday welcomed a proposal from Kabila to send DRC troops to Brazzaville to form the basis of an Afican peacekeeping force.

Nairobi, 3 October 1997, 15:00 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this report, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to]

Date: Fri, 3 Oct 1997 18:52:21 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 262 for 3 Oct 1997 97.10.3 (fwd) Message-ID: <>

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

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