Great Lakes: IRIN Update 65,12/24/96

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 65,12/24/96


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No.65 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 24 December 1996)

Zairean state-run television broadcast a statement last night announcing that Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo is to remain in office. A statement, signed by representatives of the presidential Conclave of Political Forces and the premier's moderate opposition, said there was "no case for suspending or vacating" the post of prime minister. The more radical opposition parties were not signatories to the text. President Mobutu had given political parties until yesterday to come up with nominations for a new government.

Some 900 Rwandan refugees have been detained upon their return home from Tanzania, a UN spokesman said, quoted by AFP. He said they were detained in the Byumba and Kibungo areas after being denounced by local people. They are among over 300,000 refugees who have so far returned to Rwanda since Tanzania issued a departure deadline of December 31. Red Cross workers reported an alarming rise in the number of children separated from their families in the exodus from Tanzania and said tracing operations were underway. They had received 1,583 enquiries for missing children. By Sunday, of 674 registered children, 164 had been reunited with their families. Aid workers said some parents were deliberately abandoning their children so that they would be fed by relief agencies.

A South African delegation, led by the deputy foreign minister, was in Rwanda yesterday for talks and to bring emergency aid for the resettlement of returning refugees. Rwandan radio said they met Vice-President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana and discussed the role of the international community in helping with the resettlement. Former Tanzanian president Dr Julius Nyerere also ended a visit to Rwanda yesterday, expressing satisfaction at the way the country was handling the refugee return. Nyerere, who is mediating in the Burundi crisis, said he believed the warring parties there should stop fighting over the Christmas period and hold talks, Rwandan radio reported.

The government in Burundi has dismissed as propaganda a truce announcement by the extremist Hutu rebel group National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). Presidential spokesman Jean-Luc Ndizeye reiterated that the rebels should "renounce violence, massacres and the ideology of genocide." "Why don't the terrorists let the people live in peace once and for all?" he asked. Yesterday CNDD leader Leonard Nyangoma announced an 11-day ceasefire beginning at midnight last night but warned the army not to take advantage of the truce, otherwise the rebels would "react with considerable force".

Tanzania has denied reports that a Zairean boat, with at least 50 people on board, capsized and sank in Lake Tanganyika earlier this month. The privately-owned 'Sunday Observer' in its latest edition reported that the incident occurred as the ship was sailing from Kalemie in Zaire to Kigoma and that all the passengers had perished. However Kigoma regional commissioner Yusuf Makamba told AFP the only confirmed mishap was that a boat from Burundi, with 30 people on board, had broken down on its way to Kigoma on December 14 and there were no casualties. "All I can say is that we are not aware of any serious accident involving a Zairean registered vessel. There was no serious accident resulting in deaths," Makamba said.

About 500 rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been killed in Ugandan army shelling of their hideouts in the Ruwenzori mountain area of Bukonjo, Kasese, on the border with Zaire during the past week. Military sources, quoted by the state-owned 'New Vision' yesterday, said another 80 rebels had been captured. About 5,000 Ugandan soldiers were deployed in the area, supported by heavy artillery. "We have surrounded them [rebels] and locked them in some sort of box. They have no way out," the sources said. The paper also cited an army commander as saying the war against the rebels would soon end. According to another Ugandan newspaper, the 'Monitor', presidential adviser on northern military affairs Maj-Gen Salim Saleh, warned of impending starvation further north in Gulu where another war is being waged against rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army. Up to 130,000 people had been displaced as a result of the fighting and had not received any food aid, the paper reported. Saleh described the situation as "bad", but said the government had been asked to intervene. "The methods of distributing food are very poor. But the vice-president has gone there to see to it that people don't starve. I think that with her presence things will be okay," he said.

The response to the UN inter-agency flash appeal for the Great Lakes region stood at US$112,024,096 as of December 17. The appeal, covering the period 1 November 1996 - 31 January 1997, is trying to raise a total of $259,466,214, leaving a shortfall so far of $147,442,118.

Nairobi, 24 December 1996, 12:00 gmt [ENDS]

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 1996 15:02:04 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 65 for 24 Dec 1996 96.12.24 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali Dinar,