Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 264, 10/7/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 264, 10/7/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 264 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday, 7 October 97)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Goma quit order applies to UNHCR alone - sources

The vice-governor of North Kivu told a meeting of international humanitarian agencies today (Tuesday) that the government's order for all organisations working with refugees to leave Goma applied only to UNHCR, aid sources report. He said he had spoken to the interior ministry and this was now Kinshasa's official position. UNHCR spokesman Peter Kessler told IRIN that the government's decision to expell the refugee agency would affect directly or indirectly more than 1,000 people employed in programmes in North Kivu.

Ogata denounces expulsions

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata on Monday "strongly denounced" the expulsion of hundreds of Rwandan refugees from the DRC. According to UNHCR, DRC soldiers trucked 830 Rwandan refugees, including 753 women and children, to the border over the weekend. Four of the refugees were arrested on their return to Rwanda. "The DRC is a signatory to international conventions on refugees. Its actions against refugees in recent days constitute a violation of their commitments," Ogata said in a statement. "Our efforts to help these people have been frustrated at every turn," she said.

The Kinshasa authorities announced on Sunday they had sent back 4,000 Rwandan refugees, but UNHCR said it had only seen the 830 Rwandans trucked over the weekend to Gisenyi. The agency said it had no details that some 1,500 ex-FAR were also handed over to Kigali from DRC.

Fighting subsides on DRC border

Heavy fighting at the weekend between the Rwandan army and Hutu rebels in the Rutshuru/Gisenyi area has reportedly quietened down. "It seems to be calm, we don't hear it anymore, but we don't know what's happening in the communes," one aid worker told IRIN. There have been no reports of refugees fleeing into the DRC in the last few days from Rwanda's western region. The Goma-Gisenyi border closed by the DRC government on Friday remains officially shut, but according to humanitarian sources local commercial traffic was crossing today.

UN to decide on fate of investigative mission

The UN will decide within 15 days whether human rights investigators should return to the DRC or the entire mission should be scrapped, UN Security Council President Juan Somavia said on Monday. Somavia said the Secretary-General would need 15 days for "a final decision on how things should go forward," Reuters reported. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the four recalled UN investigators would probably see Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday. Annan recalled four leading members of the mission last Wednesday after they had spent nearly six weeks in Kinshasa without being able to start their probe into gross violations of human rights abuse.

Minister visits refugees in northwestern Rwanda

DRC Rehabilitation Minister Etienne Mbaya on Sunday visited DRC refugees in Mudende camp in Gisenyi, northwestern Rwanda, local radio reported. The minister brought a message from DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila assuring the refugees that the government was trying to ensure their return home. The refugees in Mudende are ethnic Tutsis. The camp was attacked in late August by Hutu rebels crossing from DRC and more than 100 refugees were massacred.

RWANDA: Sex crimes to be added to genocide court charges

Sexual offences will be added to the charges against Rwandans facing trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, the UN court said. Prosecutor Louise Arbour told reporters yesterday they would feature on future charge lists and could be levelled against defendants already charged with other crimes. Arbour made the announcement after a weekend seminar held to try and define the most effective way of prosecuting offences of sexual violence at the international human rights courts for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Indictment confirmed on Hassan Ngeze

ICTR Judge Lennart Aspegren yesterday confirmed three counts out of four in the indictment of Hassan Ngeze, former editor-in-chief of the 'Kangura' newspaper, the court said in a press release. It added the court also issued a warrant of arrest which was served on Ngeze. Ngeze is currently detained at the ICTR's detention facility in Arusha. The indictment alleges that Ngeze knowingly, with his consent and at his direction, published or allowed to be published certain materials which were used in the preparation of genocide against Tutsis; incited to kill and/or cause serious bodily or mental harm to Tutsis; and persecuted Tutsis and certain Hutus.

WFP says malnutrition rates on the increase

WFP in Rwanda says that, although the country has not yet been hit by famine, shortages have pushed food prices two or three times higher in recent weeks and reports that malnutrition rates are already on the increase. The UN food agency said that in Gikongoro area the NGO Sanitaire had recorded a rise in rates of 10 percent over the last few months. During the coming weeks, WFP seed protection food packages will be distributed to around half a million Rwandans. A total of 900 mt of food has already been delivered to the communes for this purpose.

UGANDA: Death toll from LRA bus attack could number 30

The death toll from an ambush on a bus in northern Uganda may be as high as 30, AFP quoted the the independent 'Monitor' newspaper as saying on Sunday. Military officials had previously reported eight people had been killed in an attack on Friday morning by some 40 rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The attack, the first of its kind in the northern districts of Gulu and Kitgum since last year, appeared to be a response to recent government claims the LRA was as good as finished and leader Joseph Kony on the run.

Aid agencies encourage people to return home

Humanitarian sources said aid agencies were preparing the distribution of return packages to Ugandans in the Bundibugyo area of western Uganda, displaced by fighting between government forces and Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels. They said WFP would distribute a two-month food resettlement ration through its implementing partners, but warned a new emergency now appeared to be developing further south where thousands more people are displaced following recent attacks near Kasese.

ANGOLA: UNITA official arrives in Luanda to set up party hq

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) has said it plans to establish its headquarters in the Angolan capital, Luanda, to demonstrate its full commitment to the peace process, Angolan state radio reported. UNITA Deputy Secretary-General Correia Victor arrived in the city last Friday to begin this process. The radio quoted Victor as stressing the need to conclude the swift implementation of the 1994 Lusaka peace accord between UNITA and the Angolan government which provides for the demilitarisation of the former rebel movement and the return of all the country to state administration.

BURUNDI: Monitors report increase in rebel attacks

Human rights monitors reported an upsurge of rebel attacks in September in the provinces of Bubanza, Makamba, Cibitoke and Bujumbura Rural, triggering immediate reprisals from the army during which civilians were killed. Between the end of August and end of September, they said they believed some 100 people were killed in incidents in those provinces. They added that during the weekend of 20-21 September, two incidents in Gitaza and Mubone left 26 people dead and over 30 injured. Meanwhile, they also reported an increase in armed robberies in the capital Bujumbura which they said had seen on average one armed attack per week.

Parliament meets, but no quorum - again

Burundi's parliament, its numbers decimated by assassination and exile, reconvened yesterday after an annual break, but again failed to attract enough legislators for a quorum, Reuters reported. Though technically functioning, Burundi's parliament has done little since being restored in October last year by military strongman Pierre Buyoya who initially dissolved it after seizing power in an army coup the previous July. Regional countries who clamped economic sanctions on Burundi after the coup insisted on parliament resuming its work.

Nairobi, 7 October 1997 15:30 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: Tue, 7 Oct 1997 19:13:56 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update No. 264 for 7 Oct 1997 97.10.7 Message-ID: <>

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

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