Zaire: IRIN Update 9 on Eastern Zaire, 11/6/96

Zaire: IRIN Update 9 on Eastern Zaire, 11/6/96

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 9 on Eastern Zaire (5-6 November 1996)

Regional leaders on Tuesday called for the UN Security Council to take urgent measures to ensure the establishment of safe corridors in Eastern Zaire, and create temporary sanctuaries by deploying a neutral force. The Summit expressed "grave concern" at the deteriorating situation and the threat posed to peace and stability in the entire Great Lakes region. Immediate needs were listed as a strictly observed ceasefire; commitment to the territorial integrity of Zaire, national boundaries and an end to cross-border incursions; and commitment to the inalienable rights of all people within internationally recognised territorial boundaries. This has been interpreted to refer in particular to the Banyamulenge's right to Zairean nationality. The leaders also called for intensification of efforts towards voluntary repatriation of refugees to Rwanda, and separation of "the intimidators and bonafide refugees", referring to the exiled extremist Hutus from the Interahamwe militia and the former Rwandan army, who have controlled refugee camps since perpetrating the 1994 genocide.

Attending the summit hosted by President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, were: Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Pasteur Bizimungu of Rwanda, Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Ferdinand Oyono, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cameroon, representing President Paul Biya, current Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The talks were also attended by OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim and former Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere, mediator for the Burundi peace process. Burundi complained it was not invited even though it is an affected neighbour. There was no representative from Zaire.

The decisions of the regional summit are seen by many as significant as they represent a regional consensus - excluding Zaire - in favour of military intervention. President Daniel arap Moi said it was important to get international backing for the decisions. Response from the Zairean government will be critical to implement the decisions. There was also no representation from the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL). Until yesterday, Rwanda rejected any sort of military intervention - and points still have to be clarified on the type of corridors created. There will be important clarifications to be made on how some of the decisions are implemented - like temporary sanctuaries, and how to separate bonafide refugees and the intimidators. Previous resolutions undertaken on separation have failed to take effect. Resolutions to intensify efforts towards voluntary repatriation to Rwanda must also be seen in the context that an extremely small number of the refugees have returned voluntarily to Rwanda to date, despite the considerable dangers and hardships now faced inside Zaire. The OAU has been asked by the leaders to "closely follow up the implementation" of the decisions, and work with the UN Secretary General.

Some international aid workers are seeking to take advantage of the ceasefire and cross into rebel-held towns of Goma, Bukavu and Uvira. Yesterday (Tuesday) journalists were allowed across the border at Goma but given restricted access by the rebel ADFL. Some aid agencies are today seeking access to Eastern Zaire and in particular to the huge numbers of refugees who are believed to have gone west of Goma, into the interior (there were about 700,000 around Goma before fighting dispersed them). Efforts will be made to gain access to Mugunga camp, west of Goma town. One aid agency reports that Mugunga has been calm over the last couple of days, that there are still supplies of medicine left at the hospital, local aid workers are trying to distribute existing food supplies, and there is no fuel left for the hospital generator.

Local aid workers have continued to operate to the best of their ability, and some aid organisations believe that if the ceasefire holds they can make contact with local staff and begin assessment and rudimentary operations in affected areas. Aid workers in Nairobi say they are "unclear" about whether it is possible to successfully negotiate access with permission from Kinshasa - evacuated aid workers are hoping to return to Zaire through Rwanda. Nairobi is being used as a temporary meeting and coordination centre for some humanitarian organisations involved in the crisis, but Rwanda is a key operational base. No food has been delivered for more than a week to eastern Zaire, and existing stocks are believed to have been distributed by local staff - or looted. Agencies believe that although much (if not all) has been looted - like vehicles, radios, generators etc - the equipment is likely to remain in the area because of fuel shortages and rebel restrictions. There have been contradictory reports about the level of discipline among the rebels, and is mostly speculative or incidental because contact has been so limited. Access to Uvira and Bukavu is also limited, and information is mainly emanating from press reports in Goma.

UN Special Envoy Raymond Chretien has arrived in Nice, France, and plans to meet President Mobutu of Zaire - said to be recuperating from cancer treatment and due to return to Zaire "in the next few days". UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner Sergio Vieira de Mello is expected to hold talks in Kinshasa today.

The World Food programme says it is providing food to an emergency shelter in Kigoma, Tanzania, for the 4,600 refugees (mainly Zairean nationals) who have arrived since the weekend - and say thousands more are reportedly on their way. It says it has enough food in northern Tanzania to feed some 20,000 refugees for one month. WFP say the refugees are arrving in "relatively good condition". However, Action Contre le Faim (ACF) has reported 14% severe malnutrition among under fives at Gatumba (Burundi).

Nairobi, 6 November 1996, 09:50 GMT


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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 12:51:33 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 9 on Eastern Zaire for 5-6 Nov 96 96.11.6 Message-ID: <>

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

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