Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.77, 01/13/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.77, 01/13/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Emergency Update No.77 on the Great Lakes (Saturday-Monday 11-13 January 1997)

# Burundi's Tutsi-dominated army has admitted killing 126 Hutu refugees on Friday who returned to the country from Tanzania and tried to escape from a detention centre. Army spokesman Lt-Col Isaie Nibizi said seven soldiers had been arrested in connection with the shootings, in the northeast province of Muyingi, and would be charged in a court of law. Presidential spokesman Jean-Luc Ndizeye also said the government was probing the incident and more details would be released in the course of the investigation.

A UN official in Burundi told Reuters that 120 Burundian Hutu refugees accused of fomenting trouble in the camps in Tanzania had been sent back to Burundi over the weekend. He said they were expelled from Tanzania's Kitale camp after in-fighting between Burundian extremist Hutus from the Palipehutu organisation and the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). Reuters quoted eyewitnesses as saying the army massacred 83 Hutu civilians near Rutegama in Muramvya province last weekend, but presidential spokesman Ndizeye said he had heard nothing about the incident.

A Burundian official said more than 200,000 civilians had been grouped into special camps in the troubled provinces of Cibitoke, Bubanza, Karuzi and Muramvya so that the army could differentiate between innocent civilians and Hutu rebels. Frederic Kazungu, chief of staff at the ministry for displaced people and refugee repatriation, admitted that conditions at the Karuzi camps in particular were not ideal, placing the blame on regional economic sanctions imposed by Burundi's neighbours last July. "Normally we should provide them with help by supplying them with food, medicine and plastic sheets, but we have had coordination problems with aid workers," he said. "Because of the embargo, aid from the main organisations has arrived only in dribs and drabs."

The UN today warned of serious impediments to relief operations in Burundi unless the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee (RSCC) authorises the importation of more fuel supplies. A statement released by the office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes region said the ongoing regional economic embargo was severely hampering the ability of aid organisations to help needy people in Burundi. The fuel imports authorised by the RSCC in September lasted only one month and subsequent requests for new fuel allocations have not been met. The statement stressed that both UN and NGO fuel reserves were now virtually depleted.

The Tanzanian government has set a deadline of 18 January for all Burundian refugees living outside the camps to return to them. In a statement issued yesterday, the government also urged Burundians "who are ready to go home" to do so, because the situation in Burundi was "not as threatening as reported by certain quarters". Refugees from camps in the Kigoma, Tabora, Rukwa and Kagera regions had spread to local villages and towns, the statement said. It added that 30,000 people had already returned home voluntarily to Burundi.

The Tanzanian government also announced the closure of camps in the northwest areas of Karagwe, Milepa, Biharamulo and Ngara formerly inhabited by Rwandan refugees, most of whom had now returned home. Refugees who fled the camps and are still hiding out in forests or towns will be hunted down by the authorities and legal action taken against them. Zaireans entering the Kigoma region are not recognised as refugees and must register immediately in the camps so they can be assisted to return home, the government stated. Reuters quoted a UNHCR official as saying some 5,000 refugees had arrived in Tanzania last week, fleeing the war in eastern Zaire.

# The UN on Friday reported a total of 5,837 Burundian refugees currently in Rwanda, gathered in three groups. There were 707 refugees at the Musange Transit Centre in Butare prefecture who arrived with the mass influx of Rwandan returnees from Goma, Zaire, last November. The biggest group, 3,678 refugees, were at Kibangire camp in Cyangugu prefecture. They began arriving in June, fleeing the fighting in Burundi's Cibitoke province. Another 1,452 refugees were inhabiting the Kigeme camp in Gikongoro prefecture where they had fled in the aftermath of the assassination of Burundi president Melchior Ndadaye in October 1993. The Rwandan government believes there is no longer any need for refugee camps in Rwanda and the Burundians should now return home.

# The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) today resumed the trial of the first defendant, former mayor of Taba, Jean-Paul Akayesu. The trial adjourned Friday after hearing testimony from the first prosecution witness, a Tutsi woman known simply as "K" to protect her identity. She narrated how Akayesu had ordered the killings of Tutsis in the commune of Taba, Gitarama prefecture, where she had worked as his accountant. The ICTR's witness protection measures include no photographing, filming or sketching of the witnesses. Akayesu today personally cross-examined the witness but requested an adjournment to prepare his questions. The court agreed to suspend work until tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, Akayesu has also requested a change of lawyer for the third time since his trial began in October last year. However the tribunal's registrar Adronico Adede refused to allow any further delays to the procedure. "We tried to make sure that everything was transparent, we gave him the benefit of the doubt hoping that he was really looking for good defence lawyers, (but) as soon as we saw he was playing games we stopped," Adede told reporters on Saturday. The tribunal provides defence counsel to suspects who say they cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. It will examine Akayesu's request later this week.

# In Rwanda, a former Hutu politician accused of being one of the architects of the 1994 genocide, goes on trial in Kigali tomorrow. Froduald Karamira was a vice-president of a faction of the MDR party and allegedly a leader of the Interahamwe militia. He is charged with inciting genocide and committing crimes against humanity which carries a mandatory death penalty. Every day, as the slaughter of Tutsis was underway, he allegedly made inflammatory broadcasts on extremist Hutu Radio Mille Collines (RTLM). Reuters reported Deputy Justice Minister Gerard Gahima as saying his ministry would receive funds from the UN to provide legal representation for genocide suspects, under an agreement to be formalised this week. The trial of two suspects, sentenced to death last week, came under criticism after it was learned that the accused had no defence counsel.

# The US ambassador in Kinshasa, Daniel Simpson, accused Rwanda and Uganda of aggression against Zaire, during an interview broadcast by state television. "We understand perfectly that Zaire has been attacked by Rwanda and Uganda," he said. "This poses problems both on the political and the humanitarian front." He added that the USA was "totally against" division or secession in Zaire.

Iran condemned the "savage aggression" against Zaire and offered its good offices for a peaceful resolution to the rebellion in eastern Zaire, Zairean radio reported last week. It quoted Iran's charge d'affaires in Kinshasa as saying the Zaire situation was "tragic". "Iran mediate in the conflict between Zaire and its eastern neighbours," the radio said.

# Six senior Zairean army officers are to appear before military tribunals on various charges of desertion, rape and pillage in eastern Zaire. Government spokesman Koloni Longo, who made the announcement on state television last week, said "uncontrolled elements of the Zairean army have committed acts of vandalism and carried out exactions on the population". He added that the province of Upper Zaire, which has seen some of the worst looting by mutinous troops, had been declared a disaster zone.

# President Mobutu, who returned to France from Zaire on Thursday, underwent minor surgery on Friday at a Monaco hospital, Associated Press reported. He was admitted to the urology department and was expected to remain in hospital for several days. No further details were given. Mobutu underwent surgery for prostate cancer in August, finally returning to Zaire last month.

# Rebels in northern Uganda have killed more than 200 people in the Kitgum district in five days, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported today. It claimed some 400 members of the Lord's Resistance Army entered Uganda from Sudan on January 5 and went on the rampage, indiscriminately killing local people. However, Minister of State for Defence, Amama Mbabazi, quoted by the state-owned 'New Vision' newspaper, denied any knowledge of mass killings by LRA rebels, saying the only report he had received from the area was the killing of six rebels by government troops during fighting over the weekend.

Nairobi, 13 January 1997, 15:00gmt [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: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 18:27:52 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.77 for 11-13 Jan 1997 97.1.13 Message-ID: <>

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

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