Zaire: IRIN Update 18 on Eastern Zaire, 11/12/96

Zaire: IRIN Update 18 on Eastern Zaire, 11/12/96


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 18 on Eastern Zaire (11-12 November 1996)

The front line has moved west of Mugunga camp towards Sake, with rebels firmly in control of immediate access to the camp. The NGO American Refugee Committee (ARC), who received a report from personnel passing from Sake to the camp yesterday, say there are refugees in the camp. Rebels are allowing some people out of the camp. A member of ARC told IRIN that a first hand account of access to the camp indicated that "the front line appears to have passed behind the camp". From Sake, rebels have erected road blocks towards Mugunga.

The ADFL are treating the camp as a "prohibited zone", refusing local people, journalists and aid workers access west of Goma town. The road from Mugunga camp, west of Goma town, towards Sake is mined, with one blast yesterday causing several deaths. It is not known whether mines are only on the road (further into the interior) or whether the perimeters of the camp have also been mined. ARC reports that Mugunga hospital is still functioning.

A Zairean Minister denounced the cross-border UN mission yesterday - described by the UN only as a "first step" - as a violation of its territorial integrity. Reuters reported Zairean Information Minister Boguo Makele saying that the mission represented "a violation of our territorial integrity" and that aid should be distributed to refugees within Rwanda. United Nations Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali talked to Zaire's prime minister, Kengo Wa Dondo, by telephone yesterday (Monday November 11) and said the Prime Minister was "willing to cooperate with the United Nations to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance". UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was informed, so as to facilitate UN cross-border assessment missions from Rwanda.

Political discontent in Zaire and the civil war makes obtaining permission from Kinshasa difficult, particularly as it is unclear who has the power and influence to enforce decisions in the east. The Secretary-General had given the go-ahead to proceed with yesterday's cross-border missions despite Zaire's reluctance to give permission.

UNICEF says it is planning an airlift to Kisangani, organised via Kinshasa with the Ministry of Health. A preparatory mission to Kisangani was delayed in Kinshasa yesterday. UNICEF aims to preposition 100 tons of relief supplies in Kinshasa and then move supplies forward to Kisangani for displaced people. UNICEF's Zaire director Steve Allen reported there are some 60,000 displaced persons at Lubutu, southeast of Kisangani, the vast majority of whom are probably Zaireans (AFP). He said they had probably walked up to 2-300 kilometers, some starting off in very poor condition. UNICEF wants to reactivate health clinics and centres in the area, where local staff try to continue work.

Aid representatives in Nairobi say that despite the recent, limited moves into eastern Zaire, there is no indication of where the bulk of some 1.2 million refugees are. No satellite images have been made public; and concentrations of refugees in jungle and forest areas are invisible to aerial surveys.

Scores of French soldiers are reported to have arrived in Brazzaville, the Congolese capital, neighbouring Zaire. AFP reports they have been deployed in response to unrest in Kinshasa. AFP also reports that Congolese President Pascal Lissouba yesterday met the ailing President Mobutu of Zaire at his French Riviera villa.

Six trucks of supplies were brought in with the UN assessment mission to Goma yesterday for delivery to local hospitals. The UN convoys, along with those of NGOs were taken to the local stadium and obliged to remain there pending a meeting with a rebel "technical committee". UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths, with the UN team and an NGO representative, talked to rebel spokesman Laurent Kabila about access and monitoring of distributions. UN officials emphasised to Kabila that humanitarian assistance in Eastern Zaire did not constitute recognition of the rebels, and said that there should be no rejection of international civil servants (UN staff) who have previously worked in the area. Since Friday, there have been reports that the rebels and the Rwandan Government were refusing access to personnel and some aid agencies who had previously worked in eastern Zaire.

A second mission into Bukavu was composed of UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and DHA, and met a representative of the ADFL. The UN team explained the need to do further assessment missions, and get guarantees from the ADFL on safety and access. The rebels are eager for supplies to get to local people and the internally displaced. UN missions are expected to try for cross-border access again today.

[IRIN Note: UNICEF is seeking CVs of qualified candidates immediately available for short term assignments in Information (Nairobi) and Programme Coordination (Kigali). Please contact by e-mail:, fax: +254 2 622681, PO Box 44145 Nairobi.]

Nairobi, 12 November 1996, 10:25 GMT


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Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 13:24:54 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 18 on Eastern Zaire for 11-12 Nov 1996 96.11.12 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali Dinar,