UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 46 on eastern Zaire (1-2 December 1996)
Fears of cross-border assaults between Uganda and Zaire were heightened today after the Zairean army accused Ugandan troops of taking control of Beni, 50 kms from Butembo in north Kivu. An army spokesman, quoted by AFP, said the Ugandans entered the town on Saturday after coming into Zaire via the Mpondwe-Kasindi border post. He rejected claims by Uganda that it was simply exercising its right to pursue Zaire-based rebels. "They penetrated Zairean territory to come to the aid of their Rwandan allies, not to pursue Ugandan rebels," the spokesman said. Missionary organisations operating in the area said Beni was under rebel control, but that according to second-hand reports there may have been Ugandan involvement. The organisations have been evacuating Bunia, further north, due to instability. Reports say that Bunia airport is no longer safe. The missionaries reported that Zairean soldiers were looting as they fled the towns and some women were said to have died from violent rape and attempted rape. Beni itself was now reported to be calm. BBC radio said the rebels were pushing northwards in pursuit of fleeing Zairean soldiers.
Uganda meanwhile denied that its forces had captured Beni but admitted going into Kasindi late Thursday in pursuit of rebels. "We wouldn't go into Beni," foreign minister Eriya Kategaya said on Sunday. "Why should we go there? We went into Kasindi because it was being used by rebels and is close to our border." He said he believed Beni had been taken by Zairean rebels.
Nyamulagira volcano, north of Goma, erupted yesterday with initial reports dismissing any significant humanitarian problems, as the area is reportedly sparsely populated. The volcano is located near the now-empty camps of Kitale and Kahindo. However the whereabouts of many refugees and displaced people remains unknown. Eyewitnesses in the Goma region said they could see lava spewing into the air, along with large clouds of gases.
An advance team of Canadian officers from the multi-national force was due in Goma today to prepare for possible airdrops of supplies to refugees in the region, UNHCR said. UNHCR spokesman Ray Wilkinson, quoted by AFP, said WFP had been tasked with defining the dropping zones, but by yesterday the Zairean rebels had still refused WFP representatives access to the area. The refugees appear, according to some UN sources, to be concentrated in three main areas - the majority, up to 200,000, near Walikale, an estimated 50,000 along the Masisi plain and tens of thousands sheltering in Virunga forests. No firm decision has yet been taken on the airdrops, which most aid agencies say should be a last resort option. A Canadian military official, meanwhile, said yesterday that medical supplies and cholera vaccines from MSF, weighing 6.7 MT, had been airlifted to Kigoma, Tanzania, aboard a military cargo plane.
WFP in Uganda has received the first of two air shipments of short-haul trucks from Croatia to provide badly-needed transport of relief food to Rwandan returnees. A WFP press release said eight of a total 16 trucks, donated by ODA, arrived in Entebbe on Saturday. It said the supply of trucks was critical to gain access to returnees who have gone back to their their hilly, remote areas. The FAO representative in Rwanda, Peter Vandor said returning refugees had already been provided with seeds and tools to enable them to start farming as soon as possible.
Zairean rebel leader Laurent Kabila has said the territory under the control of his forces would soon be named Democratic Congo, Associated Press reported on Saturday. Upon independence in 1960, the former Belgian Congo was renamed Republic of the Congo. Mobutu changed the name to Zaire in 1971.
Burundian leader Maj Pierre Buyoya said he would ask neighbouring countries to lift economic sanctions against his country at a regional summit which opens in Congo. "I shall explain the difficulties faced by our country, notably because of the illegal closure of the borders ... in order to have these measures reviewed," he said, in remarks broadcast by Burundi national radio. Buyoya is already in Brazzaville to attend the summit which will discuss the crisis in the Great Lakes region. The rebel Hutu organisation National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD) today expressed its disapproval of Buyoya's invitation to the summit, describing him as "head of the military junta in Bujumbura."
The Canadian commander of the MNF Lt Gen Maurice Baril is due in Nairobi tomorrow night and is planning to meet representatives of humanitarian agencies and the Kenyan government.
Nairobi, 2 December 1996 15:40 GMT
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Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 18:43:43 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 46 on Eastern Zaire for 1-2 Dec 96 96.12.2 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961202183703.122Iemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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