IRIN Update No.55 on the Great Lakes, 12/12/96

IRIN Update No.55 on the Great Lakes, 12/12/96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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

IRIN Emergency Update No. 55 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 12 December 1996)

[In view of the evolving situation in the Great Lakes, IRIN is to broaden the scope of its daily update to include significant events throughout the region.]

Some 35,000 refugees in Tanzania's Ngara region have left Kitali camp, but instead of returning to Rwanda as expected, they went further into Tanzania, WFP said. At a crossroads, where they could have headed for Rwanda, they turned instead towards Isaka in north-central Tanzania. Further north in Karagwe, 7,000-8,000 refugees are reported to have left the camps to establish unofficial settlements. WFP said they had been told they would not receive aid as long as they were outside the system, but they replied that they did not care. The refugees have said they will not return to the camps, nor to Rwanda. Yesterday, UNHCR said some 23,000 refugees had fled the Karagwe camps away from the Rwandan border following a campaign of intimidation by Hutu extremists. Some are reported to have returned to the camps.

Requests for repatriation to Rwanda by refugees in Tanzania's camps have dropped off substantially, according to a report yesterday from the DHA Information Centre in Kigali. The only request of importance came from up to 13,000 Muslims in the Ngara camps who want to return on Saturday. In Lumasi camp, 445 refugees who had registered to return, reportedly changed their minds and rumours are said to be circulating throughout the camps that the repatriation has been called off.

Relief agencies have launched aid airlifts to help stranded refugees in eastern Zaire, ICRC announced. AFP reported that an ICRC C-130 Hercules plane flew from Nairobi yesterday with aid for the Shabunda region, where groups of some 100,000 refugees have been spotted, and another flight left today, ICRC said. An ICRC spokesman, quoted by AFP, said shipments - comprising mostly high energy biscuits, medical supplies, plastic sheeting and blankets - were flown to Kindu, and will be tranported on to Shabunda using smaller planes.

The Archbishop of Kisangani, Monsengwo Pasinya, has appealed to world leaders not to forget the plight of hundreds of thousands of displaced people and refugees wandering around in eastern Zaire, and warned that Kisangani was consequently facing "imminent danger". He pointed out that only a portion of the refugees had returned to Rwanda, and the "evasion and hesitation" shown by the world community had resulted in a flow of "panic-stricken" people towards Kisangani or deeper into the forests. "No-one speaks of these refugees and displaced people anymore," he said. "Beyond any doubt, these hesitations constitute an imminent danger for the several million inhabitants of Kisangani and neighbouring dioceses, whose numbers will soon be increased by the arrival of those displaced. Furthermore with the fall of Butembo-Beni, and the sacking of Bunia, both sources of food for Kisangani, and with the sharp reduction in river traffic towards Upper Zaire, this city is in danger of a famine of unimaginable magnitude." Acting as the "voice of the voiceless", he appealed for urgent aid to the city.

Bunia still appeared to be in government hands yesterday, after local Radio Candip which broadcasts from the town, transmitted new stories in line with the authorities' stand. The radio, monitored by the BBC, broadcast news of Mobutu's imminent return and remarks by the justice minister on improving the human rights situation in the country.

Zaire said yesterday it was not aware of any negotiations to bring in mercenaries to fight alongside its army, but it did not rule out seeking military help from allies to regain rebel-captured territory. "If we are obliged to work with even the devil himself we will do so in order to win back Zaire's territorial integrity," Information Minister Boguo Makele told Reuters. He added however that the time for such military help had not yet arrived.

Heavy fighting again broke out on the Uganda-Zaire border yesterday, the Ugandan 'New Vision' newspaper reported today. It said some 1,000 Ugandan soldiers battled about 500 rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Ruwenzori mountains which straddle the border. At least 16 rebels were reported killed in the operation which was aimed at dislodging them from their mountain hideout.

In Burundi, two main Tutsi parties have rejected mediation in the country's ethnic conflict by former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere and both refused to take part in peace talks, due to open in Arusha today. The main opposition party, Uprona, accused Nyerere of bias and slammed the continued regional economic embargo against Burundi. "Given the situation created by the measure, as illegal as it is unjust, of imposing a total blockade against Burundi...and the biased attitude [of Nyerere] regarding terrorist and genocidal is no longer open to us to accept his invitations," said a letter from Uprona president Charles Mukasi. The leader of the Tutsi-dominated Rally for Democracy and and Economic and Social Development (RADDES), Joseph Nzeyimana, also turned down the invitation. To date, it was not known exactly who would attend the talks. A spokesman for Burundian leader Pierre Buyoya, speaking on BBC radio, said the government would participate in the talks but would not negotiate with "killers" or those espousing a "genocidal philosophy". These groups must first renounce killings, and then the government would talk to them, he said.

More than 1,000 people were massacred in Burundi in one month between late October and late November, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayala Lasso said yesterday. According to Ayalo Lasso, most of the victims were killed by soldiers. "The human rights situation in November can be described as alarming with its wave of massacres, arbitrary arrests, looting and destruction of property," he said in a monthly report, quoted by AFP. The report said killings were mostly carried out by the army but Hutu rebels were also responsible. The return of tens of thousands of Hutu refugees from Zaire was partly to blame for the increase in tension, the report stated. Particularly volatile areas were said to be the provinces of Kayanza, Bururi, Cibitoke, Gitega, Ruyigi and Bujumbura-Rurale. A government spokesman said on the BBC that the authorities were investigating reports of massacres but had found nothing to substantiate the accusations.

The judicial system in Rwanda remains heavily overloaded, with only 20 defence lawyers for some seven million inhabitants and increasingly overcrowded prisons, a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said yesterday. UN observers recorded 82,200 prisoners in the country's 192 detention centres, with 23,200 new detainees in the period January-November. Among them are 3,000 women and over 2,000 adolescents.

Meanwhile, a senior Rwandan army officer appeared before a military court in Kigali yesterday accused of allowing the massacre of displaced people at Kibeho camp in southwest Rwanda in April 1995. Rwandan radio said the trial of Lt.Col Fred Ibingira was adjourned until next Thursday after the defendant and his lawyer rqeuested more time to prepare his defence. An AFP report said Ibingira is accused of not taking the necessary decisions to stop the killings and save the displaced people under his protection. The massacre occurred after RPA troops moved into the camp to close it down.

Nairobi, December 12 1996, 11:25 gmt [ENDS]

[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: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 14:36:30 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: IRIN Update No.55 on the Great Lakes (12 December 1996) 96.12.12 Message-Id: <>

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

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