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IRIN Emergency Update No. 40 on Eastern Zaire (26 November 1996)
United Nations Regional Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, Martin Griffiths - returning from Zaire - told IRIN today that the lack of first hand UN evidence of large concentrations of people in eastern Zaire means continuing reconnaissance should remain a top priority. After holding talks with the Zairean authorities in Kinshasa and Kindu he said the UN intends to expand its presence in Zaire, possibly using Kisangani and Kindu as operational areas. By increasing UN personnel and stocks in Zaire, the UN hopes to reach displaced and conflict affected people in eastern Zaire. Negotiations will continue with the Zairean government, which has welcomed the proposal of a multi-national force to assist in repatriating Rwandan refugees.
The Regional Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator said that the Zairean government is anxious to get assistance to internally displaced people, but remains insistent that Rwandan refugees must be repatriated and given assistance in their country of orgin. According to Zairean authorities there are up to 200,000 refugees around Katshungu. However, a UN flight to Walikale and Lubutu showed only small groups of people - including some 1,500 sheltering under UNHCR sheeting in Katshungu - but the UN team was informed by Zairean authorities that large groups of displaced people were sheltering in church buildings and forests. Church networks may be used to assist those internally displaced.
Zairean soldiers fleeing Butembo and Beni are arriving in large numbers further north in Bunia. Internally displaced groups are reported as fleeing in front of the soldiers - or making way for them - because of fear of looting and abuse by the soldiers. The congregation of soldiers in Bunia, and the accompanying disorder and insecurity, led to the evacuation of missionary families and personnel in Bunia and Nyankunde over the weekend. An NGO flight over the border area showed about fifty vehicles travelling north to Bunia, assumed to be carrying military personnel and accompanying families. The United Kingdom has agreed to make aerial photographs publicly available to UN agencies to assist with accurate tracing of refugees and displaced people.
UNHCR reports that numbers of refugees returning from Goma, eastern Zaire, to Rwanda are falling. Yesterday 1,016 returnees arrived in Rwanda, compared to 3-5,000 per day between 21-23 November. UNHCR say that some of the refugees were from South Kivu camps who had walked along the western shore of Lake Kivu and through Goma. Several hundred people continue to appear in Mugunga camp near Goma, apparently moving through the forest from Katale and Kibumba camps on the northern axis. Arrivals are reported to be in relatively good condition, although agencies still anticipate a later arrival of weaker refugees - especially those walking for ten days or more from South Kivu camps.
Journalists report that the rebel ADFL were requisitioning vehicles over the last few days to pick up refugees from the Sake road; however, rebels brought back mainly women and children and apparently separated out male refugees. One UN official told IRIN there was no information available on the fate of these refugees.
The Dutch paper De Standaard reports allegations from a refugee diary, kept since October 20, that rebels repeatedly prevented refugees from returning to Rwanda and "hunted" refugees on escape routes from the camps. According to the diary, rebels set up road blocks outside Mugunga camp and separated out men and boys of twelve years and over. Refugees say they heard gunfire near the road blocks; one claims he counted 120 corpses on the road. De Standaard reports that, according to refugee accounts, the Interahamwe also terrorized and killed refugees. The author of the diary estimates that 500 refugees were killed by Hutu militants in Mugunga camp when an Interahamwe militia man was found dead. It also records mass killings by armed militants of 200 men in Kirinda, near Katale, of 20 men, and of another group of 200 men. De Standaard says the diary will be used to prosecute crimes against humanity. A member of an international human rights organisation told IRIN, from Kigali, that some journalists had handed over vital documentary evidence found in Mugunga camp to officials for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Arusha); but some jounralists are known to have retained documents.
The Rwandan government has removed way stations and transit camps from Gisenyi to Ruhengeri to speed up repatriation of returnees to home communes. Many former soldiers are with the returnees, and are declaring themselves to the local communal offices. In some areas, meetings have been held to see how former soldiers might be reintegrated into the RPA. The UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda has gathered preliminary information on house occupation - in Kayove commune (Gisenyi area) for example, there are 252 houses occupied by old caseload returnees and 727 houses occupied by genocide survivors whose own houses were destroyed. Temporary transit centres set up by the Rwandan government are being used to house returnees, displaced residents, and, in some cases, Zairean refugees. Mutende Transit Centre/Adventist University is housing about 5,000 Zairean refugees.
UN and other humanitarian agencies are still waiting for a decision on deployment of a multi-national force. An Inter-Agency Standing Committee statement on matters relating to the multi-national force in eastern Zaire on Friday (November 22) suggested that a formal mechanism be established to "faciliate planning and communication between the military and humanitarian actors". The statement emphasised the continued need for a multi-national force, despite the large exodus of refugees from eastern Zaire ten days ago, and expressed hope that a mulit-national force would "lead to a sustainable security environment". The statement said that the humanitarian mandate of the agencies should be taken into consideration in the planning and execution of the deployment of the multi-national force, and that the Office of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator should be "fully consulted in further developing the humanitarian objectives of the mission of the multi-national force". It also reiterated that a multi-national force should act in accordance with human rights and international law.
Nairobi, 26 November 1996, 10:35 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 13:39:24 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 40 on Eastern Zaire for 26 Nov 96 96.11.26 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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