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IRIN Emergency Update No. 32 on Eastern Zaire (Wednesday 20 November 1996)
Doubts were cast on the future of a multi-national force for eastern Zaire today, as Canada, which offered to lead the troops, poured cold water on the idea of military intervention. In Ottawa, Canadian premier Jean Chretien pointed out that Rwanda itself did not want the force. "There is no longer any need for a military intervention," he said, adding that the priority now was to provide humanitarian aid to the refugees returning to Rwanda. US President Bill Clinton, speaking in Canberra today, said the US was still considering whether to send troops and a final decision was still awaited pending further discussions. Canadian Defence Minister Doug Young said countries participating in what is now being dubbed a humanitarian mission would meet in New York later today to discuss the future of the mission. The countries were also due to hold a further meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, on Friday, instead of Thursday as had previously been announced. Chretien said the New York meeting would have a mainly "political" character, while the Stuttgart talks would have a more "military" nature. He added that a further meeting would be held in Geneva to discuss the coordination of aid distribution in the Great Lakes region.
In Kigali, UN special envoy Raymond Chretien described his talks with the Canadian force commander Gen. Maurice Baril on Tuesday as good, but also admitted Rwanda did not want the troops. "Certainly this view has to be taken into account," he told reporters before leaving for Kinshasa. "But there are still a number of unanswered questions about what is happening on the other side of the border."
Zaire on Tuesday sharply criticised Washington's decision not to send combat troops to the region, accusing it of working with Rwanda to block an international force. "The whole world, with few exceptions, finds itself under the boot of the Yankees," Information Minister Boguo Makeli told AFP. "Zaire would prefer to disappear from the world map with dignity and honour than accept the dictates of this great power of shame and injustice." The USA had said earlier it would not sent a combat force to the region, but was prepared to provide less than 1,000 troops in a supporting logistics role. Meanwhile, two US military cargo planes headed for Africa on Tuesday carrying equipment for an air bridge to ferry supplies for returning Rwandan refugees. Pentagon spokeswoman Nancy Burt said the planes would go to Kigali and Mombasa, and a third plane was due to fly to Entebbe.
The French minister for emergency humanitarian action Xavier Emmanuelli arrived in Kisangani on Tuesday, ahead of today's planned departure from the town of an aid convoy for areas further southeast. The convoy, organised by NGOs, was due to arrive in the towns of Lubutu and Walikale where tens of thousands of refugees are believed to be hiding out in the hilly and jungle terrain. AFP said the drivers would all be local, and the convoy would be escorted by the Zairean army. Red Cross volunteers meanwhile began removing bodies from the deserted camps of Mugunga and Sake on Tuesday. At least 166 people have so far been buried in a mass grave in Mugunga. An NGO with a contact in Kalemie, south of Uvira, told IRIN the area was calm. Several thousand displaced people and refugees were in the town and a few were believed to be outside. All required food and shelter.
A rebel radio station "Radio du Peuple", broadcasting from Bukavu, announced yesterday that the border between Bukavu and Cyangugu in Rwanda would be open as of today. A statement signed by the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) said local people would be allowed to move around and obtain supplies from both sides of the border. Sources close to the Banyamulenge told IRIN today the Interahamwe militia and former Rwandan forces were moving from the Goma and Bukavu areas in two groups, mixed with refugees, and would in all likelihood meet up in an area south of Sake.
A UNHCR bulletin on Tuesday said about 50 percent of returnees had reached their home communes, mainly in the Gisenyi and Ruhengeri areas of Rwanda. Some had even reached as far as Kigali.
According to a breakdown of the home areas of Rwandan refugees, five prefectures - Kibungo, Byumba, Gisenyi, Kigali Rurale and Ruhengeri - accounted for 75 percent of all refugees in Goma. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator's Office in Rwanda said Byumba was the only prefecture with a mixture of refugees in both Zaire and Tanzania, and the mass return from Zaire might prompt a similar return from Tanzania in a bid to get home before property and land were taken.
UNHCR said the refugee population in the Kigoma region of western Tanzania had more than doubled in just the first half of November. By 17 November, the figure had reached over 116,000 up from 51,600 at the end of October. New Burundian arrivals in Tanzania directly from Burundi were put at 36,198 and refugees coming from Zaire (mainly Zairean) at 27,447.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights which has been monitoring the unfolding situation in Rwanda through the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR), has called for increasing HRFOR personnel up to a maximum of 300 to give sustained human rights assistance to the Rwandan government and people. It said HRFOR had insufficient resources to deal with the mass influx of Rwandan refugees into the country. In Geneva, the UN announced 60 UN volunteers had been identified, mainly funded by the Dutch government. The Human Rights High Commissioner also appealed for increasing the number of observers in Burundi to at least 35, and preferably 100, given that the mass return of thousands of Burundian refugees in South Kivu could occur at any time.
Uganda claimed that heavy fighting in the Kasese area on the border with Zaire was coordinated from Sudan, and not from Zaire as had been previously reported. According to the New Vision today, President Museveni told a news conference the attacks, in which he said 230 people had died, were carried out "by about 1,500 tabliqs with the support of Arabs and Sudan." Museveni said he doubted whether the Zairean authorities were directly involved in the attack, and he had contacted Mobutu to ask him for advice. Uganda would now concentrate on "sharpening the army", Museveni added.
Nairobi, 20 November 1996, 10:40 GMT
[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: email@example.com for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 13:43:16 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 32 on Eastern Zaire for 19-20 Nov 1996 96.11.20 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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