Great Lakes: IRIN Update 99, 2/12/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 99, 2/12/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 99 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 12 February 1997)

# The general condition of some 10,000 refugees arriving in Salukwango, near Kalima in eastern Zaire, is "very bad", according to UNICEF. The refugees - who are predominantly Rwandan with some Burundians - recently fled Shabunda and were yesterday prevented from entering Kalima town by Zairean soldiers. They are now recieving assistance from UNHCR and UNICEF in nearby Salukwango. UNICEF flew in medical and nutritional supplies and gerry cans to Kalima yesterday. Concern continues over the deteriorating health of refugees in Tingi-Tingi camp, backed up today by disturbing pictures broadcast by CNN. The report said about 200 were dying every week - predominantly infants.

# The Zairean government has welcomed a proposal by European Union Special Envoy, Aldo Ajello, for a regional meeting. The regional meeting would be held before an international conference on the Great Lakes crisis - but Zaire reiterates former conditions that "invading forces" must first withdraw. A statement from the Foreign Ministry said the intended meeting would gather heads of states involved in last year's Nairobi summit as well as those from other African countries, and donors.

# Mohamed Sahnoun, Joint Special Representative of the Secretary-Generals of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity for the Great Lakes Region, is in Nairobi for consultations. After proceding to the Great Lakes region, Mr Sahnoun will be setting up an office in the region. A statement issued from the OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa said this week that OAU Secretary-General, Salim Ahmed Salim will give all necessary "resources and support" to enable Mr Sahnoun to carry out his task effectively. The OAU said Mr Sahnoun had "briefed the Secretary-General on his activities since his appointment and the extensive consultations which he had so far undertaken in New York, Washington and Paris".

# UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs Sadako Ogata, arrived in Kigali yesterday for talks on the refugee crisis in eastern Zaire, and is expected to meet Rwandan leaders during her three-day visit. She will also meet with representatives of humanitarian aid organisations.

# Government officials in Rwanda held a security meeting at the stadium in Kigali today. It was attended by Rwandan civil servants, and discussed increasing concern over deteriorating security. Yesterday four people were arrested in Kigali with mines in their possession. Witnesses reported yesterday that four dead bodies had been seen lined up on the road between Kigali and Gitarama. Last Sunday, eleven people were killed and twenty wounded in an ambush of two mini taxis just outside Kigali. On February 9, the body of a decapitated man was reportedly found outside a restaurant in Kigali. Five UN human rights monitors were killed in an ambush last week, while three Spanish aid worker were killed in an attack on their centre last month. Aid organisations have asked the Rwandan government for armed escorts for insecure areas.

# The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in Bujumbura yesterday that security needed to be completely re-established before repatriation of refugees could begin. Mrs Ogata met Burundi leader Pierre Buyoya and other senior officials in the northern town of Ngozi yesterday. Buyoya declared his country secure, and proposed joint missions with UNHCR to look into areas that will allow repatriation. He condemned the massacre of 122 Burundi refugees who were expelled from Tanzania last month, and said a customs officer and six soldiers charged with the massacre were on trial by military court. Mrs Ogata said UNHCR would participate in the joint missions proposed. UNHCR says more than 92,000 Burundi refugees have returned from Zaire since October 1996; some 72,500 of those returned to Burundi's troubled Cibitoke region. Burundi is still gripped by regional sanctions following Buyoya's take-over in July 1996.

# Although there has been recent debate over the effectiveness of the sanctions (including concern that neighbouring countries are profitting from illegal trading) the Regional Sanctions Committee has so far remained firm that sanctions must continue until the hostile Burundi factions hold peace talks. Since January - as international concern over Burundi increases - Buyoya has endeavoured to project an image of calm control throughout most of the country. The regime sharply criticised the European Unions Special Envoy to the Great Lakes accusing him of mounting a campaign of disinformation; it also strongly protested a UNHCR report that said at least 1,100 civilians had been victims of the civil war, from early December 1996 to mid January 1997. Buyoya pursued the same strategy in a meeting with former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, international representatives, and the "Arusha group" February 1-3: he accused international organisations of "propaganda" and "fabrication", while at the same time challenging the UN to deliver a greater number of international observers.

The next Regional Sanctions Committee meeting is reportedly scheduled for February 13th, after the February 10 meeting was canceled. Representatives of Buyoya and Nyangoma (CNDD) are believed to have held "discrete talks" in Rome, Italy, but there is no apparent progress.

# Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa was quoted in the state-owned Daily News newspaper yesterday as telling a rally in the northwestern town of Ngara (Monday) that Tanzania was interested only in lasting peace and the restoration of democracy in Burundi. This was interpreted by news agencies as a rebuttal of allegations by the Buyoya regime that Tanzania is supporting Hutu rebels. Buyoya had also accused Tanzania authorities of blocking exports of fertilizer and seeds to Burundi despite an exemption granted by the regional countries. Mpaka - who last year ordered the repatriation of some 500,000 Rwandan refugees - told residents in northwestern Tanzania to be patient as the government was looking for ways of solving the refugee problem. He thanked residents for sheltering tens of thousands of Burundi refugees.

# Burundian state radio reported yesterday that opposition leader Augustin Nzojibwani was taken into custody at Mbimba prison yesterday for "setting the population against the public authorities and institutions, as well as....undermining efforts to restore peace in Burundi". He had been under house arrest for a week. Nzojibwani is the Secretary General of the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU), the main Hutu opposition party. Charges include those relating to giving foreign radio interviews which "alarm the people". Last month, Nzojibwani criticised the government's policy of re-grouping returning refugees into what he called "concentration camps".

# UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for "immediate and urgent corrective measures" for the International Tribunal for Rwanda, following the release of a 50-page report today on alleged mismanagement. The UN report, by Undersecretary-General Karl Paschke of Germany, said that the review disclosed that "not a single administrative area of the registry (finance, procurement, personnel, security, general services) functioned effectively". However, no specific measures were recommended against two officials singled out for criticism - the Arusha, Tanzania-based administrative registrar and the Kigali-based deputy prosecutor. UN headquarters was criticized for failing to intervene as necessary, and for hiring staff without the requisite linguistic ability or relevant legal background. The report said that unless the prosecution strategy and leadership problems were corrected, "the tribunal will have been created to little effect: the Rwandese will be right to suspect that justice delayed is justice denied".

# State-run radio in Rwanda reported yesterday that seven Rwandans awaiting trial for war crimes in Kigali have committed suicide in the last two months.

# Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni met with French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday for more than an hour in talks that focused primarily on the Great Lakes crisis. A spokesperson for Chirac said after the meeting that Museveni had reaffirmed his commitment to the principle of the inviolability of borders. Later in a press conference, President Museveni stressed he was fully committed to existing borders and denied any presence of Ugandan soldiers in eastern Zaire. The French government is widely percieved to be a strong supporter of Zaire's ailing President Sese Seko Mobutu, and allows him to stay in France at a luxury home when he is out of the country. Chirac has said that Mobutu is the only person capable of solving the crisis in Zaire. Uganda has strongly denied sending troops to eastern Zaire; France and the United States have warned Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi against military intervention.

President Museveni's remarks on the inviolability of borders coincided with the announcement yesterday by the Zairean Ministry of Defence that a Ugandan military cargo plane crashed on Monday in the Ruwenzori highlands in northeast Zaire. The Zairean ministry claimed it was "transporting a unit of soldiers and a large cargo of sophisticated military equipment". Today, a Ugandan army spokesman was quoted by AFP as denying the crash.

# Rebels in eastern Zaire claim they established "complete control" over Isiro yesterday afternoon, according to a BBC report. Isiro is a strategic town northeast of Kisangani on the Ugandan border. The BBC also reported military sources in Kinshasa confirming that the rebel ADFL had taken Bafwasende.

# US diplomat Peter Whaley who visted Goma, eastern Zaire, yesterday reported that he found rebel chief Laurent-Desire Kabila absent from his headquarters. AFP reports a rebel spokesman in Goma saying that Kabila had gone on an "inspection mission" and that he did not know when Kabila would return.

Nairobi, 12 February 1997, 14:30 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, 12 Feb 1997 19:36:49 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 99 for 12 Feb 1997 97.2.12 Message-ID: <>

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

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