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IRIN Emergency Update No. 51 on eastern Zaire (7-8 December 1996)
Lt-Gen Maurice Baril, Canadian commander of the multi-national force has said the situation in eastern Zaire is improving. "Life is returning to normal, the markets are open and people are coming home," said Baril, who arrived in Goma on Sunday. Any force sent to the region must have "a mission to accomplish", he added, hinting there may no longer be any need for sending foreign troops. While in Goma, Baril said he had not seen any movement of refugees during his visit, but acknowledged some were further west in the Zairean forest without aid. "The groups have broken up," he said. "It is difficult to know exactly where they are." He indicated that food-drops were now probably out of the question, describing them as "costly and dangerous". However, "if there were to be a catastrophe, we could do food-drops," he said.
France insisted it was still committed to an international force, despite remarks at the weekend by Cooperation Minister Jacques Godfrain in which he said there was "no longer any question of going there [eastern Zaire]." The French foreign ministry later issued a commnique stating that "France's position on the implementation of United Nations resolutions on Zaire, notably on the deployment of a multi-national force, has not changed."
In an interview with Kenya's Sunday Standard newspaper, rebel commander Andre Ngandu Kissasse said his troops "had the weapons and the people's will to fight a war. We will reach Kinshasa very soon." He said some Zairean soldiers had joined the rebels, and others were so disillusioned without pay that they were no longer capable of fighting. Rebel leader Laurent Kabila meanwhile, who paid a short visit to Bukavu on Friday, told recruits in the area it was time to carry out the liberation struggle, rebel Radio of the People reported on Saturday. He defined their mission as "a disciplined army at the service of the people ... an elite body different from an outlawed armed gang."
UNHCR spokesman Filippo Grandi told AFP on Saturday that there have been 2,754 corpses picked up and buried in the Goma region between November 2 and December 4. He said his figures were based on data from a local humanitarian agency working for UNHCR with responsibility for burying bodies. He added it was not known who killed them but that some had died of exhaustion or illness. Half of the bodies were thought to be refugees, and the rest Zaireans.
Ugandan security sources, quoted by AFP on Saturday, said at least 3,000 Zairean soldiers had joined up with Ugandan rebels based in Zaire. According to the sources, the soldiers - who had been driven out of Beni by Zairean rebels - believed the Ugandan army had helped the rebels take control of Beni, and they were now siding with the rebel Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Uganda has consistently denied any involvement in the Beni takeover.
Amnesty International has expressed concern that Rwandan refugees in Tanzania will be returned home without consideration for their rights to continue to seek asylum. In a statement dated 6 December, Amnesty "appeals for an immediate withdrawal of the decision by the Tanzanian government to expel all Rwandese refugees by 31 December 1996 and is urging the UNHCR to desist from taking any actions which would condone this decision". Saying that the refugees are "not just an anonymous mass", the human rights organization says many of them "would be at risk on return," due to continuing human rights problems within Rwanda.
A report from the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda released on 7 December indicates that 162 returnees have so far been placed in detention from over 500,000 who returned from Zaire during November. The UNHRFOR says that 322,964 people had been registered in their home communes as of 1 December, and that "returnees were generally well-received". Some of those in detention are seeking protection from revenge attacks. In general, the report says local authorities have respected national directives so that arrests take place only after case files have been completed. 4,331 members of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) have been registered, 12 of whom have been arrested. HRFOR have received reports of 26 returnees being ill-treated at the time of their arrest or during detention and are investigating.
Four returnees and two of their associates have been killed, according to HRFOR, but also four genocide survivors and two of their associates have been reported killed by returnees, apparently in an attempt to eliminate witnesses to crimes committed in 1994. HRFOR reports that property problems could be the largest impediment to rapid reintegration. The lack of housing - particularly in urban areas remains a "real and serious" problem.
In its report, the HRFOR reported on the reception of 75,000 Rwandan returnees who came from Burundi in July and August. Of those, about 2.65% are in detention presently.
Nairobi, 9 December 1996, 08:40 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1996 11:41:28 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 51 on Eastern Zaire for 7-8 Dec 96 96.12.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961209113418.6058Demail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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