Great Lakes: IRIN Update 268, 10/13/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 268, 10/13/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

Fax: +254 2 622129


IRIN Emergency Update No. 268 on the Great Lakes (Saturday-Monday, 11-13 October 1997)

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Attacks reportedly launched from Cabinda

The conflict in Congo widened over the weekend after allegations of Angolan involvement on both sides. News reports indicated that Angolan government forces had helped the militia of ex-Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso launch an attack from Cabinda enclave on southern Congo, while UNITA troops were said to be assisting President Pascal Lissouba's army. An Angolan defence ministry statement on Sunday said there had been several violations of Angolan airspace and infiltrations into Cabinda since the start of the Congo conflict. From 29 September, these violations became "deliberate air and ground attacks against civilians and units of the national police and armed forces" stationed in the border area, the statement said. These attacks caused several dead and wounded and had "reached dangerously aggressive proportions". For this reason, the statement warned, the Angolan armed forces "reserve the right to adopt pertinent measures to curb the attacks against the republic of Angola by forces from the republic of Congo". Congolese Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas described the alleged attacks by Angola as an "inadmissable aggression by a brother country".

UNITA says Angolan army helping Sassou Nguesso

The former Angolan rebel group UNITA accused the Angolan armed forces of "continued support" to "military and unelected African rebel forces". UNITA radio quoted sources in Congo as saying Lissouba's government claimed Angolan army units were heading for Loudima, just east of Pointe-Noire, in support of Sassou Nguesso's forces.

Lissouba visits Museveni

Congolese President Pascal Lissouba, meanwhile, visited his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Friday to brief him on the situation in Congo. Lissouba had previously been in Kinshasa for talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila.Ugandan radio reported the meeting between Museveni and Lissouba, but gave no details of the talks. Over the weekend, Lissouba appeared at his presidential palace in Brazzaville to dispel rumours that the building had been taken by Sassou Nguesso's forces. News agencies said the Maya-Maya international airport was also under government control after earlier reports it had fallen to Sassou Nguesso.

Kolelas militia reportedly joins fray

AFP quoted a reliable source as saying the Ninja militia, loyal to Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas and previously neutral in the conflict, had for the first time joined the battle on the government's side in a bid to regain the airport.Heavy fighting was reported in Brazzaville late yesterday and government helicopter raids were observed in the city today (Monday). Twelve French expatriates were reportedly stopped from leaving the southern town of Dolisie, which according to unconfirmed reports had come under attack from Angolan troops, AFP said. People were said to be fleeing Dolisie for Pointe-Noire.

ANGOLA: UNITA warns of deteriorating situation in Huila province

UNITA radio yesterday warned of a "dangerous deterioration" of the situation in Huila province, accusing the Angolan army of an offensive there in which several people have been killed. It claimed Angolan army units based in Caconda had attacked three areas in the province where UNITA offices had been situated, killing at least eight people. The radio urged the UN Observer Mission in Angola to take action.

RWANDA: Gisenyi residents urged to help army

Gisenyi, in northwest Rwanda, was now calm after two days of heavy fighting between Hutu rebels and the army last week, the Rwanda News Agency and humanitarian sources reported. RNA said the local authorities on Friday organised a public rally at the local stadium, urging the people to collaborate with the army and to denounce infiltrators. Thousands of people who had fled the fighting to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo had now returned home and traffic between Goma in DRC and Gisenyi was normal, the agency said.In an interview with RNA, army spokesman Major Richard Sezibera affirmed the rebels' base was "narrowing, day in, day out". They had been driven from Ruhengeri where the insurgency began, he noted. RNA cited "well-informed sources" on the border with DRC as saying the rebels had massacred civilians in the village of Byahi, but the civilian casualty toll from the fighting was unknown.

Rwanda blasts human rights report

Rwanda has slammed a human rights report alleging Rwandan troops were involved in the massacre of refugees in DRC. Emmanuel Gasana, an adviser to Vice-President Paul Kagame, on Friday described the report by Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues as a "mere compilation of media reports and hearsay reporting", according to the Rwanda News Agency. Gasana said the report lacked credibility. "The very fact that (investigator Scott) Campbell claims to have carried out his investigation hiding from government troops throws doubt on the report," he stated. Gasana pointed out that Rwanda had never hidden the fact that its troops were present in ex-Zaire and the "discipline of our troops is not only when they are on Rwandan soil".

Growing concern over food security

Humanitarian workers have expressed growing concern over the food security situation in Rwanda as seasonal rains are now four weeks behind schedule. An additional delay throughout October could result in significant losses for the agricultural season. Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema has urged donors and humanitarian organisations to help reduce the dependence on food assistance by responding to the outstanding shortfall of US$ 1,027,440 for this season's agricultural programme. Gikongoro, Gitarama and Kibuye prefectures are particularly in need of help.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UNHCR blasts world's "silence" over refugees

A Geneva-based spokeswoman for UNHCR blamed the international community for its "deafening silence" over the plight of Rwandan refugees in DRC. She said the agency had been ordered to leave Bukavu, after the authorities issued a similar order to pull out of Goma last week. "We are now unable to carry out any of our activities in either North or South Kivu regions," she told a news briefing on Friday. "We are trying to protect refugees, but we're not allowed to do it and states don't seem to be particularly bothered about that".

UNHCR on Saturday repatriated 74 Rwandan refugees who were found in the Mbandaka region of northwest DRC. Of these, 43 were unaccompanied children.

UGANDA: Rebels kill 12 near tourist lodge

Rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed 12 people near a tourist lodge in western Uganda last week, AFP reported, quoting a military commander on Saturday. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Angina, operations commander in western Uganda, said the incident occurred on Thursday in Katwe, Kasese district, four kilometres from the Mweya Safari Lodge used by tourists visiting the Queen Elizabeth National Park. About 20 heavily-armed rebels carried out the attack, he claimed, adding that several people were abducted including two 15 year-old girls.

1,000 civilians said killed this year

The independent 'Monitor' newspaper wrote that nearly 1,000 civilians had been killed in fighting in Uganda since the beginning of the year. According to the paper, the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda was responsible for almost 70 percent of civilian deaths. People were mostly killed by mines, crossfire or specific targeting of civilians, the paper said.

ADF sets conditions for talks with government

Meanwhile the ADF, in a statement, agreed to hold negotiations with the Ugandan government if the latter agreed to several conditions including an end to hostilities against the ADF, a commitment to multi-partyism and President Yoweri Museveni's denunciation of his "involvement in the wars of neighbouring countries". The statement said the ADF did not consider war as a goal in itself, and it appealed to rebel groups in the north to consider entering into dialogue with the government. The ADF called on Museveni to "swallow his pride" and meet the conditions.

SUDAN: Government denies town taken by rebels

The Sudanese authorities today denied claims by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) that it had captured the strategic garrison town of Belinia in South Kordofan province. Press reports quoted an army spokesman as saying the rebels had simply carried out "looting operations on a post far away", according to AFP. The spokesman said "isolated attacks" by the SPLA were meant to "delude public opinion about the strength" of the rebels, ahead of planned peace talks in Nairobi on 28 October.

Nairobi, 13 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: Mon, 13 Oct 1997 18:42:30 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 268 for 11-13 Oct 1997 97.10.13 Message-ID: <

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific