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IRIN Emergency Update No. 84 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 22 January 1997)
# Mohamed Sahnoun, an Algerian diplomat who once headed UN operations in Somalia, will be named as special representative for both the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) for the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.
# British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind on Tuesday admitted that a UN arms embargo on Rwanda had been circumvented from the British-ruled tax havens of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, said AFP. He also admitted that a subsequent inquiry had found delays in implementing the UN ruling in the British protectorates of Bermuda, Gibraltar and Hong Kong. Arms sanctions against Rwanda were passed by the UN on May 17 1994. Last November, documents found in a bus abandoned by Hutu extremist fleeing Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) rebels near Goma in eastern Zaire, linked a British company, Mil-Tech, with weapons shipments to Hutu militias responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide. According to an AFP report, Mil-Tech is believed to have won orders from Rwanda worth more than $5.5 million US.
# Following an assessment mission to northern Uganda on Saturday, UNHCR, UNICEF and International Services Volunteers' Association (AVSI) coordinated a relief operation for internally displaced people (IDP) in Kitgum district. Hundreds of people have been killed in Kitgum since early November and some 41,500 others have been displaced over the last ten years by fighting between government forces and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The mission delivered food and non-food relief items and cash assistance of around 6.5 million Ugandan shillings to the IDPs. Further assistance could be provided to the area based on the outcome of an assessment by local authorities as well as reports to be submitted by UNICEF's health and water/sanitation experts.
# The Rwandan government issued a statement 22 January expressing its shock at the murder of three Spanish aid workers, and the wounding of an American. According to the statement read on Radio Rwanda, the government said that the recent acts of violence in Ruhengeri were being perpetrated by members of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia, who recently returned with the mass of Rwandan refugees from camps in Zaire and Tanzania. The Rwandan government claimed that the aim of the attacks was to "punish" humanitarian organizations who are working with the Tutsi-dominated Kigali government, said AFP. The government statement said Rwanda is paying the price for the government's leniency in forgoing screening to permit the quick and smooth resettlement of the returnees. The government said that it is now putting in place concrete security measures to ensure full security for local people as well as expatriates operating in the country.
Radio Rwanda also announced that a further 24 people had been killed on 21 January by unknown assailants in Nyamugali commune, Ruhengeri prefecture. Most of the dead were reported to be members of the civilian security patrols. They said it was unclear if suspects in the deaths had been apprehended.
# Over the weekend, AFP reported that some 1,500 Burundian Hutu refugees in a camp near Gikongoro, southwest Rwanda, could soon be sent back to Burundi. As most of the refugees have no intention of returning to Burundi voluntarily, many sources fear that authorities will have to resort to forced repatriation.Rwandan authorities had announced on 15 January that the refugees would be repatriated via the northern border post of Kanyaru-Haut, but there has been no movement to date.
# Amnesty International, in a statement carried by AFP, said that hundreds of refugees returning to Burundi from Tanzania and Zaire in recent weeks have been massacred. In the latest reported massacre earlier this month, Burundi troops killed 126 Hutu returnees expelled from Tanzania, prompting a UNHCR appeal to Tanzania to halt the deportations, said Reuters. Amnesty International is sending a high-level delegation, led by former Canadian foreign minister Flora MacDonald, to Dar es Salaam from January 22 to 27 to meet with Tanzanian officials. The delegation will urge the Tanzanian government to stop the forced repatriation of Burundian refugees. "This is a wider issue than refugees, it is the whole question of continued conflict and harassment in Burundi and people being forced back into that situation from refugee camps," MacDonald told AFP in London. The broader goal of the delegation's visit, she said, is to return the crisis in Burundi to public awareness.
# A spokesperson for the UNHCR told Reuters that some 22,000 Burundian refugees had arrived in neighbouring Tanzania during the first half of January and their exodus seemed to be accelerating. Over half of the newly arrived refugees are Zairians, fleeing fighting between Kabila's ADFL forces and the Zairian army (FAZ). The refugees joined some 36,000 who had fled to Tanzania in December and a further 98,000 in November.
A spokesperson for the Burundian army told AFP that the army had launched an attack on Hutu rebels in Kibira forest, northwest Burundi, on Saturday. He claimed that scores of Hutu rebels were killed and large numbers of weapons seized. The weapons were shown on national television on Monday. According to the spokesperson, one soldier was killed and three more injured during the attack.
# A Kigali court has sentenced Leonidas Ndikumwami, a Burundian citizen, to death for "leading a group of armed killers" in the 1994 genocide, a legal source told AFP. He is the nineth person to be sentenced to death since the trials began on December 27. The court rejected Ndikumwami's request on 14 January for more time to prepare his case with his new lawyer. He was not present for the sentencing Monday and no explanation for his absence was given. Many Burundian Hutus, most of whom were refugees in Rwanda at the time of the genocide, reportedly took part in the massacres. Calixte Ngendahimana, a former low-level local official, and Jovan Bavugayubisa, a former official of the ruling National Republic Movement for Democracy and Development were sentenced to death in Gisenyi court on Tuesday. An AFP report claimed that neither of the accused were represented by legal counsel at their 14 January hearing and both refused to plead guilty or not guilty.
# Humanitarian sources reported that some 5,000 Zairians were fleeing westward from Amisi, following unconfirmed reports of renewed fighting between FAZ and ADFL forces. A UNHCR spokesperson told Reuters that there had been no movement from the refugee camps in the same area.
# A Zairian military court has sentenced 4 officers and 10 soldiers to death for cowardice. The soldiers reportedly fled Amisi on 16 January in the face of a rebel offensive in which government troops have suffered a string of defeats, the soldiers' lawyers told AFP. The soldiers are expected to appeal within the statutory 24 hours for their case to be heard before the military court in Kinshasa. The defence argued that the soldiers were originally part of the Zairian police force, and therefore not prepared for combat. "It was chaos," one captain told AFP, adding that everyone fled in different directions.
Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko announced Tuesday that Ramazani Baya, Zaire's ambassador to France, had been fired and would be returning to France by the end of the week to face prosecution for the killings of two teenagers in a car crash of 23 November 1996, said AFP. The decision ends a struggle between France, one of Zaire's main political allies in its bid to recover territory from ADFL rebels, and Zaire over the lifting of the ambassador's diplomatic immunity.
In Tripoli, Great SPLAJ radio reported that Zairian Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo had met with the Libyan foreign minister on 21 January in Kinshasa. The report said that emphasis in the meeting had been placed on ending foreign intervention in the continent and greater reliance on African solutions.Libya has agreed to help Zaire in its counter-offensive against the ADFL rebels but has not specified what form that aid will take, reported Reuters.
RTM television in Morocco reported that Honore Ngdanda, a special envoy of President Mobutu, had arrived in Rabat for meetings with Moroccan officials. Moroccan troops were used to quell separatist movements in Shaba province following independence in the 1960s.
Reuters reported that Egypt also has a special envoy visiting governement authorities in Kinshasa.
Nairobi, 22 January 1997, 15:00 gmt [ENDS]
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Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 18:42:54 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 84 for 22 Jan 1997 97.1.22 Message-Id: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970122183202.8968Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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