Zaire: IRIN Update 41 on Eastern Zaire, 11/26/96

Zaire: IRIN Update 41 on Eastern Zaire, 11/26/96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

IRIN Emergency Update No.41 on eastern Zaire (Tuesday 26 November 1996)

A Rwandan Hutu refugee has said hundreds of thousands of his compatriots are still hiding in the Virunga forests of eastern Zaire, Reuters has reported. Some refugees who fled Katale camp last month, began emerging from the forests on Saturday. "Imagine the population of Katale and Kahindo, all put in the same place, all together," said Jeanepo Musivimu, a refugee from Kigali."That is what it is like in the forest." According to UNHCR, the combined population of the two camps before the exodus was 310,000. Reuters said the man's testimony adds credence to the estimates of aid organisations, who say there are still possibly hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to make their way home.

Other media reports quote refugees as saying the rebels are killing hundreds of men in the forest. "From what the refugees are telling us, there is a huge disaster going on up there," said one aid worker, quoted by Associated Press. One refugee said the rebels suspect that any refugees remaining in Zaire is a member of the Rwandan Hutu militias. Other refugees speak of the Zairean Mai Mai militia taking adult male refugees into the forest, AP said. An article in the "New York Times" yesterday noted, however, that according to some aid workers who had been talking to the refugees, the latter were offering widely differing accounts of what was happening in the forests, which could be a reflection of their own political leanings.

AFP said that by yesterday Bukavu was returning to normal, as the Tutsi-dominated rebels took the first steps towards setting up a regional administration. ICRC, which has a team of delegates in the town, also confirmed that the situation was calm. Food is available, although at inflated prices. Local people appeared unconcerned by the new authorities, the first priority being to find food, AFP reported. ICRC said the water supply was functioning as was electricity, although only at night. It added that 17 sick and wounded people had been evacuated to Bukavu hospital from the Kashusha and Inera camps along the airport road, but no futher details were available. ICRC is concentrating its efforts on medical care, by providing assistance to Bukavu hospital and seven health centres.

Aid workers yesterday expressed frustration at the lack of progress over sending a multi-national force to the region. "We understand the situation is difficult and changing but we feel the international community should take its responsibility for averting a humanitarian disaster," said Arjan Hehenkamp, head of mission for MSF in Kigali. "We don't care about numbers," he added. "Even if there are only 20,000 [in eastern Zaire] we need to reach them because logic dictates that they will be in a very bad condition."

Reports on the consensus on refugee and displaced people (IDPs) numbers in eastern Zaire reached at the Stuttgart international meeting, put the figures as follows: Masisi region 80,000; NW coast of Lake Kivu south of Sake 150,000; west of Bukavu towards Kindu near Shabunda 30,000; southwest of Bukavu near Mwenga 100,000. According to other sources, there are some 700,000 refugees still in eastern Zaire. Some 2,000 IDPs and refugees are reported to be in the Kisangani area, and 2,000-4,000 refugees are on the western side of Lake Kivu 70km from Bukavu moving southwards towards the town.

Zairean rebels today accused Zairean soldiers of looting two towns north of Goma. Rebel military chief Andre Kissasse said the troops "robbed, then fled" the towns of Butembo and Bunia, 200 kms north of Goma. Rebel troops had not yet reached the area "but the population is calling us," Kissasse added. According to AFP, rebels were today evacuating Rwandan refugees from Sake towards the border with Rwanda. Aid workers reported an increased number of refugees at Sake and Grand Lac and are predicting that up to 200,000 refugees may cross the border at Gisenyi in the next few days. Way stations may be set up between Sake and Goma, but access is severely restricted. A new camp "Numbi" has been set up south of Sake, and according to UNHCR it is bigger than Mugunga which housed 350,000 people.

The World Food Programme today warned that the sudden influx of refugees from eastern Zaire into Rwanda would require a major expansion of food aid projects to facilitate the reintegration process. In a press release, it said WFP planned to integrate recent returnees into new and existing food-for-work projects over the coming weeks and months, adding that the sudden return of the refugees would require a dramatic expansion of its food aid activities.

The Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kigali reports that initial reintegration of Rwandan returnees in the communes has gone well with no major problems. However, the situation could become more fraught with the creation of transit centres as returnees wait to reclaim their property and resident families are evicted. Isolated security incidents have been reported in Gisenyi: on 17 November in Giciye commune two genocide survivors were killed and three injured in an attack by unknown assailants. Another genocide survivor was killed on the same day in a separate incident. Figures available as of 22 November from some communes in Gisenyi give the number of returnees and ex-FAR as follows: Rwerere 9,608 returnees and 147 ex-FAR Mutura 15,400 returnees and 150 ex-FAR Kanama 7,041 returnees and 168 ex-FAR Rubavu 15,034 returnees and 130 ex-FAR Kayove 2,496 returnees and 66 ex-FAR Karago 7,552 returnees and 100 ex-FAR

Zairean rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila has denied being influenced by the USA, in an interview with Bukavu-based rebel Radio du Peuple broadcast on Saturday. However, Voice of America said he met with a senior official from the US embassy in Rwanda yesterday. According to VOA, the meeting in Goma with the US acting deputy chief of mission for Rwanda, Peter Whaley lasted over an hour but both men declined to reveal the contents of the talks.

A medical checkup for Mobutu, convalescing at his villa in the south of France after cancer surgery, was postponed yesterday, according to his aides. AP said this was a possible delay to his plans to return to Zaire. Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo said last week Mobutu would have the checkup on 25 November and return home three days later.

Burundian leader Pierre Buyoya has said he will attend a regional summit on the Great Lakes to be held in Congo next week. He was invited to the summit, slated for December 2 and 3, by Congolese foreign ministry secretary-general Basile Ikouebe who visited Bujumbura on Saturday and said the turmoil in the region directly affected his country. Congolese president Pascal Lissouba has said the embargo against Burundi is unjust. Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni held talks with Rwandan vice-President Paul Kagame in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu yesterday, according to AFP. A statement said Kagame returned to Kigali later in the day, but gave no details of the talks.

The response so far to the UN inter-agency flash appeal for the Great Lakes region amounts to contributions totalling US$70,652,441, that is 27.2 percent of needs covered. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali launched the appeal for $259.3 million on 18 November for urgent humanitarian assistance to cover the period 1 November 1996-31 January 1997.

Nairobi, 26 November 1996, 16:00 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: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]


Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 19:15:02 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 41 on Eastern Zaire for 26 Nov 96 96.11.26 Message-ID: <>

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

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