UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 4 on Eastern Zaire (2 November 1996)
Heavy fighting continued in and around Goma, easing late afternoon with persistent press reports that Rwandan troops have entered the town in support of rebel forces and in response to Zairean shelling. The Rwanda Foreign Minister did not challenge allegations of a Rwandan incursion during an interview this evening. The BBC reported late Saturday afternoon that there were indications that the most of Goma had fallen to Tutsi rebels and that Zairean troops had fled the town. 108 aid workers and 11 foreign journalists were evacuated by road to the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi and were granted transit status by Rwanda. They should arrive in Nairobi on a WFP chartered Hercules today (Saturday). Local Zairean aid workers did not join the evacuation, and had continued limited relief activities on Friday. In terms of the looming humanitarian crisis - which has been described as "apocolyptic" - Goma is critical, holding the largest concentration of Rwandan refugees (estimated by the UNHCR at 717,000).
Zairean armed forces Chief of Staff Eluki Monga Aundu criticized the central government for not giving his troops the means to fight the on-going war. He added that his troops would continue to fight and would not stop at the Rwandan border but would continue beyond in a counter-offensive. He also claimed that Bukavu and Goma airports were still in Zairean army control.
Fighting has dispersed most of the refugees on the "northern axis" of Goma. There were more reports today that Katale camp (202,000 Rwanda refugees) had dispersed. This has not been officially confirmed by UNHCR. Territorial gains by the rebels now include most of the border between Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi, and a border post on the Ugandan frontier. Far to the south, PANA reports the arrival by boat of 1,000 refugees in Zambia.
Rwanda's ambassador to Zaire, Antoine Nyilinkindi, resigned Saturday, saying he disagreed with his government's position regarding Zaire, adding that Zaire was a victim of Rwanda's aggression.
The President of the UN General Assembly, Razali Ismail (Malaysia) issued a statement rebuking the international community for its impotence in the regional crisis, saying he felt guilt at the "feeble" response. He said the United Nations "should be in mourning" not only for the "enormous human catastrophe" unfolding in the Great Lakes but also for the "evaporation of the international community's ability to respond effectively". Other critical reactions included British aid agency Oxfam which said (Friday) that the regional crisis was more than a humanitarian disaster - "it is the tearing up of the Geneva Convention" - and that refugees and the displaced were being denied protection by the international community as well as the warring parties.
On Friday, the Security Council called for a ceasefire and an end to "trans-border incursions" saying they were "a serious threat to the stability of the Great Lakes region". The statement made no reference to international military intervention, but supported a UN political presence. Those calling for foreign intervention now appear to include South Africa, voiced by Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo (Friday) - "it is no doubt our unanimous view that the international community must take urgent measures, through the UN and regional organisations, to ensure peace and calm is restored". Moreover, South Africa is "reviewing" an $18 million arms deal with Rwanda due to the current crisis, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad.
US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said on Friday that the UN "is in the lead politically and from the humanitarian point of view", but said a State Department offical would visit the region next week. He said that the US is "working very cooperatively with France" for a regional African conference. European Union ministers have been invited to meet in Brussels next Thursday to discuss emergency humanitarian support.
UN Special Mediator Raymond Chretien's trip to the region will not take place until after US presidential elections (November 5) - he is expected to arrive in Kinshasa on November 8 and Kigali November 11, having said his first priority is to arrange a ceasefire. Chretien told reporters he would also stop in Lausanne to see President Mobutu before leaving for the region. According to the French daily Le Monde (Friday) Mobutu is unable to return to Zaire because of the effects of radiotherapy, and quoted medical aides saying that cancer had spread to his bones. This has not been officially confirmed by Lausanne's University Hospital.
There are reports of increasing political discontent in Kinshasa - BBC reported looting of property belonging to Tutsis. Reuter reported several hundred protesters marching to Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo's offices and calling for his dismissal. Kengo (whom opposition groups are associating with the eastern Zairean crisis by virtue of his being part Tutsi) defended the Zairean army as having "the means" to defend the country and publicly complained of being made a "scapegoat". Amnesty International has released a report expressing concern for human rights abuses against ethnic Tutsis in Kinshasa - reporting families removed from their homes by the Zairean security forces - and detailing the arrest of three human rights activists. The report says there is growing violence against and forced deportations of those associated with the crisis in eastern Zaire - primarily ethnic Tutsis, but also ethnic Hutus, and other sympathisers.
The Tutsi rebels are fighting as part of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, a political alliance of four opposition parties (Democratic Alliance of the People; Popular Revolutionary Pary; National Resistance Council for Democracy; Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Zaire). In a letter, attached to the ADFL (Congo-Zaire) manifesto, spokesman Laurent Kabila describes the party as "an instrument of radical change". The ADFL declares there are "no longer solid, stable or credible institutions in Zaire" and says it decided "to put an end to this state of affairs".
On Friday the Zairean government said it had decided to deport Rwandan and Burundian refugees "progessively and by force". In a statement issued after a cabinet meeting it declared it would not take part in any meeting on the crisis in eastern Zaire "so long as the aggressor has not left Zairean soil". Calls by the transitional parliament to sever diplomatic links with Uganda as well as with Rwanda and Burundi has widened the international dimensions of the conflict. Uganda denied any involvement today.
Nairobi, 18:45 GMT 2 November 1996 [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: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Sat, 2 Nov 1996 21:38:03 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update on Eastern Zaire for 2 November 96.11.2 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961102213750.15082Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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