Great Lakes: IRIN Update 94, 2/5/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 94, 2/5/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 94 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 5 February 1997)

# In a further deterioration of the security situation in Rwanda, four employees of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) human rights observers were shot dead in the southwest Cyangugu prefecture yesterday. A fifth died in hospital later. The observers - three Rwandans, a Briton and a Cambodian - were travelling in two clearly marked UN vehicles in Karengera commune when ambushed by a large group of unidentified armed men. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has expressed shock and dismay over the attack, whose perpetrators are not known. This is the first time human rights observers have been killed in Rwanda. In an immediate response to the incident, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jose Ayala Lasso, ordered members of UN observer missions in the western Cyangugu, Gisenyi and Kibuye prefectures to withdraw to Kigali, while observers in the Gitarama, Gikongoro and Butare prefectures were told to remain at base. Later, the UN announced that staff members were being temporarily withdrawn to Kigali from the four prefectures of Cyangugu, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Kibuye, and strict security measures were being implemented elsewhere in Rwanda. Ayala Lasso also called on the Rwandan authorities to investigate the murders and punish those responsible. The High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, strongly condemned "the wanton killing" of the human rights workers. UN agencies are meeting in Kigali today to decide what further steps to take. The Rwandan government provided a plane to fly the bodies back to Kigali.

Kibuye, Gisenyi, Ruhengeri and Cyangugu prefectures, which border Zaire, have become increasingly unstable since the mass return of Hutu refugees from Zaire and Tanzania at the end of last year. Large numbers of ex-FAR/Interahamwe are believed to have infiltrated, concealing themselves among the returnees and possibly joining up with other ex-FAR/Interahamwe members hiding out in dense forests along the border. The four prefectures are well-known hotbeds of Hutu insurgency, with the road running alongside Lake Kivu from Gisenyi to Kibuye said to be particularly dangerous. Following the killing of three Spanish aid workers in the northern Ruhengeri prefecture last month, the Rwandan army beefed up numbers in the area in a sweep against insurgents. Rwandan Interior Minister Alexis Kanyarengwe told Reuters on Monday he feared increased violence in the country after the murder on Sunday of a Canadian Catholic priest in Ruhengeri. His killers have not been identified, although Kanyarengwe pointed the finger at Hutu extremists. The priest, Fr Guy Pinard, was witness to the massacres of 1994.

# Rwandan judicial authorities yesterday handed down the 10th death sentence since it began holding genocide trials last December. The accused, sentenced by a court in Gikongoro, was a member of the extremist Hutu MDR-Power party and said to have committed numerous murders. He did not have a lawyer and refused to enter any plea. The same court sentenced a second defendant to life imprisonment, the first such penalty in the trials, as previous suspects have all received the death sentence. Meanwhile, Radio Rwanda reported yesterday that some genocide suspects in Butare were committing suicide rather than go to trial.

# Rwanda unveiled its new policy on resettlement to the international NGO community last week. The plan is based on group settlements consisting of 100-200 families. Presenting the policy, Rehabilitation and Social Integration Minister, Patrick Mazimpaka, announced that committees headed by the local bourgmestre would be set up at commune level to oversee implementation and plan site selection. NGOs would be allowed to complete housing rehabilitation work already underway, but future work must conform to the new policy, according to which each family will receive a house with land for farming within two kilometres of the residence. The minister said if national reconciliation were to be achieved, then everyone must be willing to live and work together. With a current population of some eight million, the government saw no other way to alleviate land pressure, he stated.

# Rwandan vice-presidential adviser, Emmanuel Ndahiro, has warned Zaire against bringing in military reinforcements from Chad, Morocco and Togo, saying the war in the east would not come to an end. Kinshasa meanwhile has asked Egypt for "political assistance" to help it overcome the rebellion. According to AFP, the head of the Africa desk in the Egyptian foreign ministry, Marwan Badr, denied there had been a request for military aid. "Egypt wants to maintain balanced policies with countries in the Great Lakes region which respect their territorial integrity," he was quoted as saying. "There has been no military cooperation with Zaire since the 1980s," he added. Washington has urged other nations to stay out of the fighting in eastern Zaire, saying it had "ample evidence" that foreign troops had entered Zaire. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns, who would not divulge which countries Washington believed were sending troops into Zaire, said the USA would continue to "discourage actively any outside country or any outside group of foreigners or mercenary groups...from participating, entering into the conflagration in eastern Zaire".

Meanwhile a member of President Mobutu's entourage yesterday in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss military aid, again rejected any notion of negotiations with the rebels. Lubmana Kapasa, who heads the presidential press service, referring to rebel leader Laurent Kabila, said "You don't hold a dialogue with a traitor." "War remains the only solution to ending the rebellion and the position of the Zairean government has not changed one iota on this subject." He also lashed out at the international community which "up to now has not reacted appropriately" to the region's problems.

Zairean Foreign Minister Gerard Kamanda wa Kamanda returned to his country last night following an 11-day visit to the USA and Europe, intended to brief foreign governments on the current situation. In comments broadcast by Zairean radio after his arrival, he said Zaire must continue with efforts to make its "just cause" understood. "Unfortunately, we must admit that there is a lack of information, which has to be addressed," he said. He added that Zaire was awaiting Sadako Ogata's visit from 6-8 February during which the humanitarian situation in eastern Zaire would be addressed.

As the Zairean authorities admitted Kalemie port had fallen to the rebels, ADFL leader Laurent Kabila today claimed his forces were making progress on all fronts. Speaking in Goma, he said rebel troops were continuing their advance in the mineral-rich province of Shaba and were about 40 km from the Lake Tanganyika town of Moba. According to Reuters, Zaire's defence ministry acknowledged the port area of Kalemie had been taken, but fighting was underway elsewhere in the town. "They have now taken the port but our soldiers are still fighting in other parts of the town," a senior ministry official said yesterday. Reliable sources concurred with claims by Kabila that on the western front, his forces were 30km from Shabunda and advancing rapidly, while also making significant progress in the direction of Lubutu. Kabila also claimed that Isiro in the northeast would be captured in a "matter of hours". The rebels have given the Kinshasa authorities until February 21 to start negotiations or face a "widespread offensive", AFP reported.

# UNICEF said hundreds of new arrivals were reported daily in Punia, 140km southwest of Lubutu where there were currently some 2,200 refugees. Some 9,000 refugees were en route from Kibereketa (90km east of Punia) to Kasese and onward to Punia. According to the Zairean authorities, another 11,000 refugees had passed through Punia on the way to Yumbi where 3,000 of them were now blocked at the River Lowa as no fuel was available for the ferry crossing. UNICEF said it believed the figures to be correct. UNICEF and Caritas Dioceses have set up a supplementary feeding centre in Punia which is supplied by air.

# Burundi today denied sending troops into neighbouring Zaire to back the rebels. "Burundi has never sent troops into any neighbouring countries," Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama told a press conference in Brussels. "In fact we need them to deal with our own internal situation." Zaire has alleged that Burundi, along with Uganda and Rwanda, are sending troops to fight alongside the rebels.

Burundi's Justice Minister Gervais Rubashamuheto has given details of the cases being prepared against 80 people suspected of plotting to overthrow the government in October 1993, when the-then Hutu president Melchior Ndadaye was killed. Speaking on Radio Burundi, the minister said arrest warrants would be issued next week and the suspects would appear in court in March. Last November, Burundi called for the establishment of an international tribunal to punish genocide crimes regarding the massacres that ensued after Ndadaye's death. The move was also recommended by the UN special rapporteur on human rights, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. A UN commission of enquiry into Ndadaye's assassination concluded last July that the murder was planned in advance and executed by "officers highly placed in the line of command of the Burundian army". The massacres constituted "acts of genocide against the Tutsi minority", the UN report said.

# Germany yesterday handed over 120,000 US dollars towards logistical support for the mission of the newly-appointed UN/OAU special envoy for the Great Lakes. Germany's UN mission said in a statement that $67,000 was earmarked for an aircraft to be used by the envoy, Mohamed Sahnoun, who is due to leave New York later this week. The rest will be used for telecommunications and equipment required by the mission which will be based in Nairobi.

# Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is to discuss the Great Lakes crisis with former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday. The meeting falls within a week-long visit to the USA by Museveni during which he will meet UN and US officials in New York and Washington, the Carter Centre announced. The Centre has been helping facilitate dialogue between leaders of the Great Lakes countries.

In the troubled north of Uganda, anti-government rebels ambushed and killed a police chief, the state-owned New Vision reported yesterday. It said the district police commander of Kitgum, Asafu Retesia, was the second district police chief to be murdered in two years. The rebels belonging to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) later set his car on fire. Police said they could not establish the cause of death, the paper added.

Nairobi, 5 February 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: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 18:24:47 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 94 for 5 Feb 1997 97.2.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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