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IRIN Emergency Update No. 57 on the Great Lakes (Saturday 14 December 1996)
# Tanzanian troops are surrounding groups of the more than 300,000 Rwandan refugees who left their camps in the Ngara area on Thursday and seeking to prevent them from dispersing, according to media reports. Aid agencies and journalists are not being allowed access to these areas, fuelling speculation that the troops will make a concerted effort to encourage refugees to return to Rwanda. To date there have been no reports of the use of force by Tanzanian soldiers, but the authorities have reiterated that the 31 December deadline remains in place.
Today, WFP reports that a group of over 100,000 refugees in the Kitale- Keza area to the south of Ngara, are moving in an easterly direction into the interior of Tanzania. The group is reported to have formed a column 20 kms long. It is unclear whether there are troops present in the area and whether the movement of refugees to the east will be blocked.
Yesterday, Tanzanian troops allowed refugees, who had left Benaco, Lumasi and Musuhura camps on Thursday afternoon, but who had begun to make their way back to the camps, to rest. Later, the troops issued orders that the refugees had to continue on to the Rwandan border. It appears, however, that the army's attempts to prevent refugees from returning to their camps were largely unsuccessful. Yesterday UNHCR was expecting tens of thousands of refugees to be at the Rwandan border by nightfall, but reporters at the border this afternoon say there are no signs of large numbers of refugees.
About 2,500 refugees joined UNHCR's repatriation convoys back to Rwanda yesterday, the largest in a single day so far. Since the beginning of December, 5,261 refugees have returned to Rwanda voluntarily; this compares to a total number of 3,279 voluntary returnees between 1 January and 30 November this year. At the same time, 7,000 of the 23,000 refugees who had fled their camps in the Karagwe area were reported to have gone back to their camps, while about 500 arrived in Uganda.
The nearest crossing point into Rwanda is about 20 kms north west of Ngara at Rusumo. The ICRC, IFRC and Oxfam have established health, meeting and water points every five kms along this main route to the border, while aid agencies are also scaling up their activities within Rwanda. They are reported to have established water points, health posts and biscuit distributions along a 100 km route from the Rusumo border crossing to Rwanteru, Kirehe, Remera, Kabarondo and Rwamagana in Rwanda.
# Zaire's Interior Minister, Kamanda wa Kamanda, said yesterday that Zaire does not recognize a ceasefire called by rebels of the Alliance of Democratic Forces in eastern Zaire. Speaking to Reuters, Mr Kamanda said, `We do not recognise this ceasefire. In this war we believe that the other side is the Government of Rwanda and those who are supporting Rwanda so we shall do everything in our means to recover lost territory.'
On Monday, heads of state and government from Great Lakes countries will meet in Nairobi to discuss the situation in eastern Zaire. The Secretary General of the OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim, will attend, as will Julius Nyerere, founding president of Tanzania and currently mediator for the peace talks on Burundi.
Nairobi, 14 November 1996, 13:30 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Sat, 14 Dec 1996 15:35:23 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 57 for 14 Dec 96 96.12.14 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961214153425.3752Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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