Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.78, 01/14/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.78, 01/14/97

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IRIN Emergency Update No.78 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 14 January 1997)

UNHCR in Burundi has confirmed the massacre by the army of some 120 refugees who had returned from Tanzania, AFP reported. UNHCR chief in Bujumbura Hitoshi Mise said 122 returnees had been killed. "It's a special and particular case because (the refugees) were expelled by the Tanzanian authorities because of their involvement in violent clashes in which eight people were killed at the (Kitali) refugee camp," AFP quoted Mise as saying. In-fighting reportedly broke out earlier at the Kitali camp between Burundian Hutu extremists from the Palipehutu party and the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). Burundian soldiers were said to have opened fire on Friday after panic broke out when 126 refugees were handed over by the Tanzanian authorities to the Kobero military post, near the northeast Burundian town of Muyinga, and then tried to escape. Mise said one of his colleagues who was on the spot described how a woman among the refugees had thrown a grenade towards the Burundian soldiers, although its pin was not pulled out. The matter, he added, was "very complex".

Tanzania however today denied it had expelled the refugees. Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Emmanuel Mwambulukutu said as far as he knew Tanzania had never expelled Burundian refugees from its territory. "We don't have a policy of expelling refugees," he said, according to AFP. "The only refugees we have returned home are those who came from Rwanda. This we did after being assured of the restoration of peace and stability in that country." The number of Burundians entering Tanzania continued to rise, he said, and Tanzania had established two new camps to accommodate them.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday expressed shock over the killings in Burundi and called for an end to the "cycle of violence" in the country. He urged the authorities "to ensure that the rule of law is scrupulously followed and to prevent further massacres by the army". There was a "pressing need" for an immediate ceasefire between the army and Hutu rebels, and for peace talks, he added.

Security remains a serious problem in northwest Rwanda. Employees of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) were attacked in Gisenyi yesterday afternoon by an unidentified individual using hand grenades. As a result, UN security officials have suspended all travel by UN personnel to the prefecture as well as stopping UN human rights activities in Gisenyi.

In further security incidents, three people were killed and three more wounded when about 60 armed men attacked a hospital in the northwest Rwandan town of Kabaya over the weekend, aid workers said yesterday. According to local people, the assailants were Hutus who had infiltrated from Zaire or from nearby forests and looted the hospital's pharmacy. Two MSF surgeons who were at the hospital were threatened, AFP said. Unconfirmed reports stated that the attackers also tried to storm the local jail where a number of genocide suspects are imprisoned. Rwandan radio yesterday reported the deaths of three people who were murdered in Nyakabande sector of Kigali urban prefecture. Four suspects had been detained following the murders in which the victims were blindfolded and killed using blunt weapons. Violence in Cyangugu prefecture resulted in a security meeting over the weekend convened by the prefect Faustin Munyakabera at Nyakabuye. The meeting noted in particular that five "infiltrators" were killed nine days ago during clashes with the security forces in the area. Residents were warned against collaboration with infiltrators, one of whom was present at the meeting. According to Rwandan radio, he said his group of 23 men entered Rwanda from Bukavu last October but only 10 of them had escaped death or captivity.

Tension is particularly high in communes where genocide survivors are in the minority, such as Kigali Rural prefecture. UNHCR reports that in Kanzenze, the 10,713 registered returnees heavily outnumber the local population which has led to a reluctance by genocide survivors to denounce suspects for fear of reprisals. UN sources said local authorities believe virtually all the male returnees in Kanzenze took part to some extent in the genocide and most female returnees participated in looting properties. However, only 33 people have been arrested.

An alleged ringleader of the 1994 genocide, former politician Froduald Karamira, went on trial in Kigali today, but the hearing was immediately adjourned for two weeks to give the defence more time to prepare its case. The hearing began as Amnesty International again questioned the fairness of the trials in Rwanda. "In a climate of bitterness and suspicion, there is a risk that those accused of genocide will be considered guilty unless proven innocent," Amnesty said in a statement released today. It said the the trials "should conform to international standards of fairness including ensuring that the defendants have access to the court file and adequate time to prepare for their defence, are assisted by legal counsel, including foreign lawyers, and are allowed to call witnesses in their defence".

Zairean rebel leader Laurent Kabila claimed that the Bukavu-Shabunda-Kindu axis had recently been "infiltrated" by Zairean and former Rwandan (ex-FAR) soldiers, leading to "low-level fighting" with the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). Rebel Radio of the People, which broadcasts from Bukavu, yesterday said the Zairean/ex-FAR troops were "silenced and defeated". The radio also pointed out that the "massive counter-offensive" awaited in eastern Zaire had not yet taken place, adding that Kabila had predicted that in the "post-Mobutu period", the ADFL would come to power "either via negotiations or through direct military action".

At least three people were killed by Interahamwe members who attacked a village in the Goma area under ADFL control last week, Reuters reported, quoting a rebel officer. "The village was attacked yesterday and again this morning (Friday) which was when the people were killed," said the officer who commands the checkpoint at Mushaki village. He added that the Interahamwe were located in nearby hills. AFP today cited local residents as saying hundreds of rebels had been combing the dense Virunga forests near Goma in a bid to flush out Zairean troops and Interahamwe. UN and NGO agencies reported an unusually high number of young men at the Tingi-Tingi camp near Lubutu and UN sources said they could be ex-FAR and Interahamwe who were using force to control the population. The sources said that since ADFL troops took Walikale on 25 December, refugees have been flowing out of the forest.

Concern has been expressed by humanitarian aid workers in the Lubutu area that food aid distributions in Tingi-Tingi and Amisi camps are not always reaching the intended beneficiaries. As in the Kivu camps in 1994, the most expedient way to distribute food, given staffing constraints, the large refugee population and security concerns, is to utilise existing camp structures, which parallel the Rwandan administrative structure. Concern has been raised that the distribution of food through the refugee leaders has led to inequitable food distributions with vulnerable groups being hardest hit. NGOs, aware of the problem, are trying to move away from prefect leaders to a distribution through commune and eventually cell leaders. According to UNHCR, food distribution monitoring has also been increased. WFP said it was increasing food movements to Tingi-Tingi and Amisi to 160 mt a week by road and 25 mt a day by air.

A report by UNICEF and MSF last week indicated elevated child mortality rates in refugee camps near Lubutu. Estimates from the cemetery and MSF feeding centres indicate a death rate of 20 people per day, most of them children under five. A recent UNICEF mission clarified that while the death rate among vulnerable groups was extremely high, the general refugee population was in relatively good health. They have been able to supplement their food needs by gathering wild plants.

The refugee population in Shabunda has not received food aid since the withdrawal of ICRC expatriate workers on 26 December. The UNHCR team in Kisangani has conducted two recent missions to the area and a third is planned for today. Because of time constraints and weather conditions, only the Burundian refugees closest to the airport have been visited to date. An intial assessment indicated that despite the lack of food aid the population visited seemed in relatively good condition. Some refugees in Shabunda have been able to find work in local gold mines. However, humanitarian sources caution that not all of the refugee encampments have been contacted and health conditions in the remaining camps may vary significantly.

A former Tanzanian cabinet minister was gunned down at his home outside Dar es Salaam over the weekend, police said yesterday. Nicas Mahinda, a member of parliament and former natural resources and tourism minister, was showered with bullets on Sunday by a gang of about 30 thugs who jumped over the fence of his compound. Twenty-five people have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Nairobi, 14 January 1997, 15:00 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: Tue, 14 Jan 1997 18:29:43 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update No.78 for 14 Jan 1977 97.1.14 Message-Id: <>

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

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