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IRIN Emergency Update No. 15 on Eastern Zaire (8-9 November 1996)
UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali called yesterday (Friday) for a multinational force to "stabilise the situation" in eastern Zaire. He told the Security Council that "many tens of thousands of human beings are going to die of hunger and disease" unless effective action is taken urgently. Boutros-Ghali said he hoped that the 15-member Security Council would adopt a resolution for rapid military intervention within twenty-four hours.
At 2am New York time this morning the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution, adapted from a French proposal, that included recommendations for a multinational force to be set up "for humanitarian purposes in eastern Zaire". However, the resolution only adopted the idea of military inverention in principle and requested member states to draw up plans for the proposed force. The resolution calls on the Secretary-General, in consultation with Special Envoy Raymond Chretien and Humanitarian Coordinator Sergio de Mello, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Organisation of African Unity, the Special Envoy of the European Union Aldo Ajello and with all States concerned to "draw up a concept of operations and framework for a humanitarian task force, with military assistance if necessary". The objectives were described as delivering short-term humanitarian assistance and shelter to refugees and displaced persons in Eastern Zaire. It also called urgently for an international conference for peace, security and development in the Great Lakes region.
There is no explicit mention of the use of Chapter VII in the resolution, which allows intervention without consent from the parties in conflict, or the use of force. Boutros-Ghali said on Friday he expected soldiers to "use force" if necessary. He also said that the objective of ensuring repatriation of the mainly Rwandan refugees might have to come at a later stage.
Rwandan President Bizimungu said yesterday that there should be no French, Belgian or Rwandan involvement in military intervention. Rebel spokesman Laurent-Desire Kabila also rejects French involvement.
President Mobutu has told French newspaper Liberation that he accepts a "de facto ceasefire", but continues to insist that the conflict is a "Rwandan-led attack". He denies that his cancer is spreading, but says he will not return to Zaire "for several weeks" (he was reported earlier this week as saying he would return "in a few days"). He said he would "take things in hand". French President Jaques Chirac said this week that Mobutu was the best person to resolve the crisis in Zaire, although the international community generally sees Zaire as "rudderless" and the president seriously ailing - physically and politically. Aid agencies are already warning that refugees and displaced people must be dying from lack of food and water, and hundreds of war victims have been buried by the Federation of the Red Cross in rebel held towns in eastern Zaire.
Fighting late on Friday in Goma reportedly killed at least one person in the suburbs of the town - although the fighting was described as being at least fifteen kilometers west of Goma.
The relief community in Burundi is concerned about the prospect of meeting the needs of a possible large-scale return of over 100,000 Burundian refugees, while sanctions still apply to Burundi. Even though the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee has now exempted a wide range of food and non-food supplies sufficient for 250,000 displaced people, contingency stocks are at a low level. The Burundian government has appealed to refugees to return home. An interagency team made a rare visit to Cibitoke yesterday, and found around 20,000 returnees staying in transit camps in very poor conditions. Direct aid to Cibitoke has been suspended by all international agencies for months due to insecurity.
The turmoil in Zaire has led to a rise in military operations and rebel attacks within Burundi. The DHA Humanitarian Coordinator in Burundi reports that the Burundian rebels have had their supply lines fractured by fighting in Zaire, and that the Burundian military appears to be attempting to prevent FDD rebels traversing the country and seeking to establish bases in Tanzania.
UN Special Envoy Raymond Chretien is in Kinshasa today with Sergio de Mello, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes, for talks with the foreign and defence ministers, and Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo. Chretien was reported by the press as saying the Rwandan government had pledged to "use their influence, their contacts, with armed parties".
Nairobi, 9 November 1996, 16:25 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: 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, 9 Nov 1996 19:27:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update 15 on Eastern Zaire for 8-9 Nov 1996 96.11.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961109192409.1049Jfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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