Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 263, 10/6/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 263, 10/6/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 263 on the Great Lakes (Saturday-Monday, 4-6 October 97)


UNHCR said it pulled out most of its staff from the Goma area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today (Monday) in compliance with a government order to leave.A small skeleton crew remains in the town on the border with Rwanda to close down the agency's office. Nine UNHCR staff flew out of Goma airport for Nairobi on a Buffalo aircraft. They were searched before departure and were not allowed to leave with office equipment. A statement by the DRC ministry of interior on Sunday said that official equipment was to be left behind in the safe-keeping of the provincial authorities.

A letter from the interior ministry was delivered to UNHCR via the office of the governor of North Kivu on Friday suspending the agency's operations. The authorities also demanded that all organisations dealing with refugees, including NGOs, also leave the Goma area. So far however, UNHCR is the only one which has officially received the order to depart. The ministry on Sunday accused UNHCR of political interference. It also questioned why UNHCR remained in the area "even though there are no more refugees in Goma." It alleged the agency was encouraging the entry of Rwandan refugees into DRC.

DRC says more than 4,000 Rwandans recently repatriated

The statement said that the authorities had currently repatriated more than 4,000 Rwandan refugees. "We can no longer accept Rwandans in the Kivus. That's the reason why [UN]HCR is obliged to stop any activity in the Kivus," the statement said. Following Kinshasa's announcement on the border closure and the expulsion of Rwandans, UNHCR said it "strongly condemned" the expulsion. It said it was "deeply concerned about the implications this announcement will have for Rwandan refugees who have begun crossing the border again in recent days to avoid renewed fighting in western Rwanda." On the other side of the border, the Rwandan army again attacked Hutu rebels on Saturday near Gisenyi, AFP quoted defence ministry spokesman Jean-Paul Kymonyo as saying.

Government arrests ex-FAZ suspects

Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo said yesterday his government had arrested several dozen suspected members of the ex-Zairean army who were posing as refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville. News organisations said Kongolo told a press conference that a "routine operation" last Tuesday was designed to identify former soldiers of the Zairean Armed Forces (FAZ) who had infiltrated into the DRC alongside genuine refugees. Kongolo did not say how many refugees had been arrested at Kinkole, some 30 km northeast of Kinshasa.

Humanitarian sources say refugees now number over 32,000

Humanitarian sources say the number of refugees from the fighting in Brazzaville increased last week to 32,068 from 28,551 the previous week, but said only around 35 percent of them were staying at Kinkole refugee camp. They said the remainder had found shelter with Congolese families in Kinshasa. They added that a measles epidemic recently broke out in the camp and UNICEF have vaccinated some 2,275 children. Meanwhile, DRC television reported that the National Security Council had called on all Congo-Kinshasa nationals harbouring any Congo-Brazzaville citizens to have them registered urgently by the local authorities.

DRC says it has found 1,000 ex-Rwandan troops

Kongolo announced yesterday the DRC had found more than 1,000 heavily-armed soldiers of the former Rwandan Hutu-dominated army and their Interahamwe militia allies in Equateur province in the northwest of the country. The minister told the press conference the soldiers were near Mbandaka and holding an unspecified number of Rwandan refugees as hostages. He added they were dangerous and military action would be necessary.

Kagame arrives on first visit to DRC

Meanwhile, Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame arrived in Kinshasa today on his first visit to the DRC, state television reported. Kagame, who led the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front to power in Kigali in 1994, was to discuss the border situation with Kabila, AFP quoted an informed source as saying. Kagame made a brief statement saying that he would hold talks on "common problems to find solutions," notably regarding tension arising from clashes between Rwandan troops and Hutu rebels near the border and their repercussions for "the situation in Goma and other concerns."

RWANDA: Houses vacated for former refugees

Some 8,000 families in southeastern Rwanda are leaving houses and shelters they have occupied since 1994 to allow other former refugees to regain their homes. Each family has two weeks to move out of the houses they have used since 1994 when most of them returned to the country they fled in the 1960s. They are each being given a plot of land to build a new home, except those moving to cities, who are being given plastic sheeting. Kenya hands over four Rwandans and one Burundian to ICTR

The Kenyan government has handed over five genocide suspects, four Rwandans and one Burundian, to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, Rwandan radio, monitored by the BBC, reported on Friday. The Rwandans, who were arrested in Nairobi in July, were named as Colonel Laurent Serubuga, Major Emmanuel Neretse, Bonaventure Habimana, former general secretary of the ex-ruling party - the Republican National Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND) - and Maurice Ntahobali, former speaker of the national assembly. The name of the Burundian was not made available.

Rwanda calls for "mini-Marshall plan"

Rwanda called on Friday for the UN to adopt a "mini-Marshall plan" to help rebuild the African country devastated by tribal fighting and genocide. News reports quoted Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana as saying the organisation should sponsor the plan "for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the first African nation to be the victim of genocide." Speaking before the General Assembly, Gasana also called for increased international aid to Rwanda, saying it had received more than 1.4 million refugees from the former Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi since November 1996.

Refugees expelled from Tanzania

Tanzania has expelled 181 Rwandan refugees, some of whom had been living in the country since 1951, a Rwandan official said yesterday. Protais Musoni, government representative in the southeastern town of Kibungo, said the refugees had been brought to the border in military trucks, and were now in a transit camp. "Most of them are old caseload but some just left in 1994," news organisations reported Musoni as saying.All of the refugees had been living in the Biharamuro area of northern Tanzania. Radio Rwanda quoted some of those expelled as saying that the Tanzanians had cited security reasons for the measures, which would be implemented in other areas of the country housing Rwandans.

BURUNDI: Burundi and Tanzania trade accusations

Burundi has called on South Africa and Mozambique to join in efforts to solve its crisis and once again refused the help of Tanzania as a mediator. News organisations quoted Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama as repeating accusations the current mediation, led by former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, was not neutral. "We would like two or three other countries to join in," he was quoting as telling reporters at the UN's New York headquarters on Friday. He cited South Africa and Mozambique as countries which could help, as well as the European Union, which has already sent a special envoy to the region. "We would like the issue (of the crisis) to be discussed in the sub-region in order to change the location (of the negotiations) and expand the mediation, which is not neutral," Rukingama added.

Meanwhile, a pro-government Tanzanian newspaper yesterday renewed an allegation that Burundi is planning to attack refugee camps in the west of the country housing Burundian Hutu refugees. AFP reported from Dar es Salaam that the Swahili-language paper Mzalendo, which is controlled by Tanzania's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, said the Burundian army was planning incursions into Tanzania to kill Burundian Hutus. The paper was quoted as saying mortars would be used in "the invasion and subsequent massacre" targetting the more than 200,000 Burundian Hutus who fled the civil war in their country and are sheltering in camps in Tanzania not far from the border with Burundi. Report shows low nutritional levels in conflict-hit populations

WFP in Burundi says a report by the NGO Children's Aid Direct has found extremely low nutritional levels among conflict-affected populations in Bubanza province. A nationwide assessment of Caritas nutritional programmes also indicates serious nutritional problems in areas of conflict. WFP says as a result it will provide 870 mt of food commodities for therapeutic and supplementary programmes with an estimated 34,620 malnourished persons benefiting from such programmes during the next three months.

UN sources say security still a problem in Kayanza

UN sources report there has been no improvement in the security situation in Kayanza province and say the re-installation of regrouped persons remains suspended. During a recent attack on a regroupment camp in Rango commune, 900 shelters are reported to have been burned. Another camp for regrouped populations was attacked in Bubanza province and further incidents were reported in Cibitoke and Bujumbura Rural, as well as along the border with Tanzania, with exchanges of fire taking place between troops of both countries.

WFP says its caseload now totals 234,950

WFP reports that between 22 and 28 September, its beneficiary caseload totalled 234,950 persons. In Karuzi province 420 mt of food were distributed to 24,091 beneficiaries and seed protection packages were provided to 27,420 persons in Bubanza. Some 3,030 recently displaced persons in Kayanza were provided with emergency food rations and an additional 8,820 rations were provided to ACF for distribution to new arrivals. WFP food commodities were also distributed to returnees and participants in food-for-work programmes.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Rivals in fresh clashes

Rival militia in the Congolese capital Brazzaville duelled with artillery shells and rockets over the weekend in renewed clashes between the forces of President Pascal Lissouba and Denis Sassou Nguesso, according to news reports. Witnesses said the fighting between the two forces, which has continued on and off for the last four months, appeared to concentrate in the centre of Brazzaville and an eastern sector of the city lost by Sassou Nguesso's forces last week. Meanwhile, AFP reported that three or four military observers from the DRC had arrived in the city to assess the situation.

Nairobi, 6 October 15:45 gmt


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Date: Mon, 6 Oct 1997 19:36:48 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 263 for 4-6 Oct 1997 97.10.6 Message-ID: <>

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

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