Zaire: IRIN Update 11 on Eastern Zaire, 11/7/96

Zaire: IRIN Update 11 on Eastern Zaire, 11/7/96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 11 on Eastern Zaire (6-7 November 1996)

Reports coming in from the press this morning indicate that the ceasefire may not be hold. CNN reported rebel soldiers preparing to attack a refugee camp (presumed to be Mugunga-Lac Vert), described as defended by Hutu militia. Mugunga, the largest refugee camp, was thought to be controlled by former Rwandan officials and the Interahamwe Hutu extremists. What little information exists about Mugunga indicates that there has not been significant dispersal - the hospital, for example, is still functioning.

Journalists and aid personnel in Goma town say rebel troops are preventing access to Mugunga camp (400,000 refugees); one journalists told IRIN that the front line beyond the town was tense and that there is "insecurity" on the western road. The other main road, north, is also inaccessible (where two camps, Katale 115,000, and Kahindo, 210,000, have reportedly dispersed, perhaps westwards). Skirmishes are reported as close as "the outskirts" of Goma. Eye-witnesses in Goma say there is no information on the whereabouts of Zairean troops and armed Hutu extremists - who could now be engaged in combined fighting on a front line west of Goma. International press reports continue to allege a strong presence of Rwandan soldiers; some say they constitute over 50% of the armed presence in Goma. Rebels of the ADFL are described by journalists as considerably less disciplined than the Rwandan soldiers.

Local aid workers continue to bury bodies continue to be buried in Goma town, and in Bukavu town on a lesser scale. Many of the dead are civilians. CNN quoted a Zairean surgeon in Goma hospital saying that most were killed or wounded by the fleeing Zairean troops. There are 53 wounded in Goma hospital and the hospital in Goma is functioning without electricity, anaesethics, food and water.

An international journalist told IRIN this morning (Thursday) that local residents gather around town warehouses - sometimes in hundreds, sometimes in thousands - where relief food stocks remain. UN-supplied food is being handed out by rebel soldiers in what the journalist described as "a fairly orderly manner". Pictures on CNN today showed a form of "organized looting" of relief food. The food is reportedly being distributed to civilians only. Civilians in Goma and Bukavu are described as "getting hungry".

Relatively small numbers of refugees are recorded as fleeing into Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, Angola and Zambia. There are no figures from Southern Sudan (also bordering Zaire), suffering from civil war. According to WFP, refugees are recorded in the following locations:

UGANDA Kisoro 4,800 (unknown origin), Ishasha 7,000 (Zairean) RWANDA Gisenyi 6,600 (4,876 Zairean, 1,880 Rwandan) Cyangugu 1,500 (82 Zairean, 1,400 Rwandan) TANZANIA Kigoma 4,800 (3,800 Zairean, 800 Rwandan/Burundian) BURUNDI Gatumba 11,000 returnees (Burundi government says many more have returned spontaneously and gone back to homes) ANGOLA preparing to receive refugees from Zaire ZAMBIA about 1,000 reported to have arrived ZAIRE Still at least 1,000,000 Rwandan and Burundian refugees

Aid agencies, led by UNHCR, have asked donors to provide remote sensing data (satelite images) on the precise whereabouts of refugees inside Zaire, and there are signs that the donors may soon respond despite the "sensitive nature" of the request.

On plans for international intervention, rebel spokesman Laurent Kabila is reported as opposing French-led intervention. Zaire's President Mobutu has lent backing to calls for a multinational force. Rwanda's President Pasteur Bizimungu supports the proposal and said yesterday it was not necessary to secure the agreement of Zaire to procede.

French Foreign Minister said on French television that the response of the international community is "spineless". US officials are considering sending some US troops to Central Africa for logistical support in an international force to protect and feed up to 1.4 million refugees, senior US and European officials say. Differences in approach include the fact that the French, who are urging immediate intervention, would be willing to return the refugees to the existing camps in Zaire, but that the US (along with many international relief officials) are more insistent on obtaining a solution leading to repatriation.

European Union aid ministers and senior UN relief officials (including Sadako Ogata and Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Yasushi Akashi) and are in an emergency meeting in Brussels today to plan for a massive relief effort; the BBC reported that it was expected to call for an international presence on the ground before the effort could go ahead. France, Spain and Ethiopia have pledged troops, and South Africa has declared itself willing to join an international force.

The United Nations announced yesterday it had appointed a coordinator for the eastern Zaire emergency, Mr Sergio Vieira di Mello, Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees, with immediate effect. He will be assisted by Mr Martin Griffiths, Director, Department of Humanitarian Affairs. In a press statement, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Yasushi Akashi, said the immediate need was to secure access to those affected by the current conflict, establish safe corridors, temporary sanctuaries and to ensure that relief agencies can provide emergency humanitarian assistance and support repatriation programmes in a well coordinated manner.

Nairobi, 6 November 1996, 09:50 GMT


[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: Thu, 7 Nov 1996 12:45:26 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 11 on Eastern Zaire for 6-7 Nov 1996 96.11.7 Message-ID: <>

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

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