Zaire: IRIN Update on Eastern Zaire, 10/29-30/96

Zaire: IRIN Update on Eastern Zaire, 10/29-30/96


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 1 on Kivu, Zaire (30 October 1996)

Areas around the abandoned site of Kibumba camp, north of Goma, are the scene of fresh fighting. Kibumba had allegedly been taken back under Zairean military control, after fighting there yesterday in which two Zairean soldiers were killed and 29 injured. Today, however, reports from Goma suggested that clashes continue in the Kibumba area, particularly at Rumangabo.

As long as the road towards Uganda remains closed by fighting, it will be impossible for humanitarian agencies to reach the 325,000 refugees at the two northern camps beyond Kibumba with further supplies. A Zairean town close to the point at which Uganda, Zaire and Rwanda meet, Bunagana, has allegedly been taken by Zairean Tutsi rebels. The BBC reports local Ugandan officials confirming the capture, and saying thousands of refugees have arrived in Uganda. The two remaining northern camps are cut off from relief supplies arriving either from the north or south.

Humanitarian agencies today carried out a food distribution for up to 400,000 refugees at Mugunga and Lac Vert camps near Goma town. The operation by CARE Australia and the Zairean Red Cross distributed food provided by WFP to 350,000 refugees at Mugunga camp and 50,000 refugees at Lac Vert. The numbers of refugees at the two camps have been swelled by about 195,000 refugees who fled Kibumba camp over the weekend. Some 10,000 displaced Zaireans were also assisted in the distribution. Zairean staff of WFP carried out a food distribution of remaining stocks to refugees at Kahindo camp (population 115,000) and Katale camp (population 210,000) on Monday. WFP is to begin an airlift to Goma from Entebbe tomorrow, 31 October to replenish food stocks in North Kivu. Extensive work by UN and other aid agencies has gone into providing water and sanitation facilities at "Mugunga II" to prevent the outbreak of disease.

The airport at Goma remains open at the current time, although the Zairean authorities have announced that flights into Goma and Bukavu will require special authorization. Authorities in Kinshasa have also announced the appointment of military governors for North and South Kivu. They are Brigadier Ngwala Pabnzu and General Elesse Yomtembole, respectively.

The number of Rwandan refugees who have returned to Rwanda over the last three days is reported by UNHCR to be 900 at the Mutura crossing point into Gisenyi and up to 400 into Cyangugu prefecture. At least 20,000 Zaireans are dsplaced in the Goma area, and probably tens of thousands more have been uprooted in North and South Kivu over recent days. In addition 4,400 Zaireans have entered Gisenyi, Rwanda, as refugees. Meanwhile, at least 2,500 Burundians are reported to have returned to Burundi after their camps around Uvira were dispersed last week and are now being assisted at Gatumba, 15 kms west of Bujumbura. It is believed that their home communes are in Cibitoke and Bubanza. Bringing their possessions with them, they reported being escorted to the border by Banyamulenge rebels. Further returns are expected.

There is an acute lack of information about Bukavu and Uvira, although there have been unconfirmed reports that Zairean Army contingents have been pulling out of Bukavu town. BBC carried reports of the takeover of some of Bukavu late Wednesday. Uvira town is known to be under the control of Banyamulenge rebels. The Foreign Correspondents' Association of East Africa today highlighted the risks being undertaken by reporters trying to cover the story and stated that `Zaire's side of the story cannot [be told]' unless the Kinshasa authorities clamp down on harrassment of journalists by Zairean soldiers, as well as allowing reporters with visas to enter the east of country.

Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame today confirmed that Rwanda and Zaire have exchanged mortar fire intermittently since Tuesday evening up to Wednesday morning, at the Cyangugu-Bukavu border. He blamed Zairean forces for starting the clash. While denying that Rwandan Patriotic Army troops have been fighting in Zaire until now, Kagame admitted that some Banyamulenge who joined the RPA may have returned to Zaire to fight alongside the rebels. The RPA has admitted that Rwandan troops had crossed temporarily into Zaire during the clashes overnight. Kagame also pronounced Rwanda ready to "fight a war" if necessary.

International diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are continuing, with EU Special Envoy, Aldo Ajello, travelling to Zaire from Kigali today in a bid to foster talks between Rwanda and Zaire. The UN has also announced the appointment of Raymond Chretien, Canada's ambassador to Washington, as the UN mediator who will try to negotiate a ceasefire and undertake preparations for an international conference on the Great Lakes. Belgium has offered to host a regional conference under the auspices of the EU. Humanitarian agencies, meanwhile, have met in Geneva and Nairobi to make plans for relief assistance as well as to highlight the need for a political response to the crisis on the part of regional and world powers.


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Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 21:32:02 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update on Eastern Zaire for 29 and 30 October 96.10.30 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali Dinar,