UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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This is number 38 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN agencies, NGOs, other international organisations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.
Weekly Roundup of Main Events in the Great Lakes
2 - 8 December 1996
# Reports that the rebels in eastern Zaire had taken control of Bunia, Kindu and Kisangani appear to have been premature. At present, it is clear that the rebels have retained control of Uvira, Bukavu and Goma, where daily life is reported to be returning to normal. They also control Beni, which fell on 30 November. The Zairean authorities accused Uganda of having assisted the rebels in Beni, but the Ugandan Government denied the charge, saying that its troops had only gone to Kasindi (just over the Uganda-Zaire border), in pursuit of Ugandan rebels which had been using the town as their base.
In a briefing for humanitarian agencies in Nairobi on Thursday, Lt Gen Maurice Baril said that aerial surveillance by the multi-national forces (MNF) found no more than 165,000 refugees or displaced people in a 150-km wide stretch of North and South Kivu. The largest group was of 150,000 refugees around Numbi, south west of Goma, but subsequent reports over the weekend suggest this group may be breaking up. Lt Gen Baril also reported that a group of Interahamwe and ex-FAR have been sighted near the town of Walikale, while about 30,000 people believed to be ex-FAR have moved out of range.
Aid agencies, meanwhile, have expressed concern about `missing' Rwandan and Burundian refugees as well as Zairean internally displaced people. The US gives a high estimate that 650,000 Rwandan refugees have returned to Rwanda from Zaire, while 60,000 Burundian refugees are known to have returned to Burundi. Given that the original number of Rwandan refugees in Zaire was believed to be around 1.2 million, with another 140,000 Burundian refugees, this would suggest that some 440,000 Rwandan and 80,000 Burundian refugees remain in Zaire. Meanwhile, the death toll as a result of the fighting in eastern Zaire has been estimated as at least 2,754, according to the Emergency Biodiversity Team (EUB), who have taken responsibility for burying the bodies.
Humanitarian agencies now have a presence in Goma and Bukavu towns, but have little access to surrounding areas. On Tuesday a group of agencies (UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, DHA, MSF, ICRC and IFRC) were able to visit Uvira from Bukavu, the first such visit since international staff evacuated on 22 October. They reported that Uvira town was calm, markets had re-opened, and the hospital was functioning relatively normally, but that aid agency offices had been extensively looted.
Meanwhile, expectations of an intervention by the MNF have dimmed. Canada's Defence Minister Doug Young suggested on Friday that the mass return of refugees to Rwanda had vitiated the need for a military intervention; both he and Lt General Baril have also expressed serious doubts about air drops into eastern Zaire, arguing that they should be a last resort. France, meanwhile, reiterated its support for a multi- national force on Sunday, contradicting comments by Jacques Godfrain, Cooperation Minister, who earlier said it was no longer necessary. In a communique the French Ministry of External Affairs said, `France's position on the implementation of United Nations resolutions on Zaire, notbaly on the deployment of a multinational force, has not changed'.
At the political level, Zairean premier Kengo wa Dondo on Tuesday accused Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi of setting up a `Tutsi empire' and expressed his support for a multi-national force to help Rwandan refugees, at the Congo summit for central african leaders. UN Secretary-General Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali also reiterated his support for a military intervention last week. Raymond Chretien met President Mobutu in southern France on Wednesday, and declared that `Zaire is ready to play its role again and does not intend to use a `empty chair' policy'.
# The UNHRFOR has issued a report on the reintegration of Rwandan refugees from Zaire into their home communes stating that, `Overall the mass movement of returnees from the border to their home communes proceeded smoothly and returnees were generally well-received in their communes of origin.' HRFOR states that as of 1 December, 322,964 new returnees are reported to have arrived in their communes of origin and to have been registered by civilian authorities with UNHCR assistance.
But HRFOR expressed concern about `the absence of definitive figures on the number of returnees from Zaire since 15 November', noting that this will `impede considerably the verification of the their arrival in communes of origin'. The UNHCR estimates that around 550,000 Rwandan refugees returned from Zaire during the second half of November.
The HRFOR report states that 162 newly-arrived returnees are reported to have been arrested or detained, while some 4,331 members of the ex-FAR were registered by either military or civilian authorities. Twelve members of the ex-FAR have been arrested. HRFOR also received reports of four separate incidents resulting in the killing of four returnees and two persons associated with them, while also receiving reports that four genocide survivors and two persons associated with them were killed in Gisenyi Prefecture.
The Rwandan justice minister Faustin Nteziryayo met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Saturday to discuss the human rights situation in the country following the mass return of refugees, with the justice minister briefing the high commissioner on measures taken by Rwanda to improve human rights conditions. A meeting on the relief needs of Rwandan returnees will be held on December 13 and 14 in Kigali and will be co-chaired by Canada and Rwanda.
# Rwanda has published a list of nearly 1,900 people is accuses of organising and leading the genocide in 1994. The names, which are in alphabetical order and listed by commune and prefecture, are of people suspected of `first degree' involvement in the genocide, making them liable to the death penalty under the terms of new legislation. The list, published last week, includes former ministers, politicians, regional officials, military officers and Hutu militia leaders.
# The Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) last week beat off an attack by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, who invaded near the border town of Bwera on Wednesday. According to reports in the Government-owned New Vision, people from the area said that 100 rebels had crossed from Zaire. Later reports claimed that 50 rebels were killed in the subsequent fighting, while five UPDF soldiers and eight civilians were injured. The UPDF counter-attack involved them in pursuing the rebels to Kasindi, in Zairean territory.
Earlier in the week Zaire accused the Ugandan army of involvement in the war in Kivu and called on the UN to stop Uganda's armed incursions. In a statement to the Security Council, signed by Zaire's deputy premier Kamanda wa Kamanda and dated 1 December, Zaire accused the Ugandan army of `involvement in the war which Rwanda is imposing on Zaire' and said that because of its involvement Uganda should be disqualified from serving as a base for the multi-national force. Zaire also denied that it was supporting Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF).
# Major General David Tinyefuza, Uganda's presidential adviser on defence, is reported to have resigned after making highly critical comments about the Government's handling of the war in the north before a Parliamentary Committee. Tinyefuza said Ugandans should call for a referendum on the future of the Government `if it fails to end the war militarily within a month.' He said that if the war couldn't be ended in that time the Government had to talk to Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Saying that the war was an `economic disaster' for Uganda, he described as `rubbish' claims by some politicians that Kony was not a serious threat. His comments are reported to have incensed senior army officers and he is believed to have been called before a disciplinary hearing before he handed in his resignation.
A different view was expressed last week by Lt-Col Toolit, director of military intelligence, who was also appearing before the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, which is investigating the war in the north. According to a report on Radio Uganda monitored by the BBC, Lt-Col Toolit said that the war will only come to an end if the politicians and the population come out in unity to denounce rebel activities. Commenting on peace talks as a solution to the war, Lt-Col Toolit said they would only help Joseph Kony to reorganize his acts of banditry.
# LRA rebels killed 10 people last week in villages near the northern town of Gulu, according to a report in the New Vision today. The report claimed that four people had been battered to death with hoes, apparently in retaliation for their moving closer to military camps for protection. Several civilians and one Ugandan soldier were also reported to have been abducted by the rebels.
# UNHCR and Tanzania began a campaign on Friday urging Rwandan refugees in the camps to return by the end of the year. The message to the 535,000 refugees is being broadcast on local radio, circulated in leaflets in Kinyarwanda and read by workers using loudspeakers. Two way stations are being established on the 30 km road between the camps and the border and there will also be four water points, which will be used to gather children separated from their families.
The total number of people who returned in November was 548; but in recent days numbers have risen substantially. On Tuesday last week 238 refugees returned and on Thursday 274. A statement by the Tanzanian Government and UNHCR encouraging refugees to return has been criticized by UNHCR, who said `it makes no mention of options for those refugees who continue to fear human rights violations on returning to Rwanda'.
However, 15,000 refugees reported to have left the Kagenyi and Rubwere camps in Karagwe region between Friday and Sunday night are reported to have headed north and east instead of west back to Rwanda. Some media accounts report aid workers as having put forward the theory that Hutu hardliners may be organising mass departures in response to the repatriation preparations.
Tanzania hosts about 720,000 refugees, of whom 530,000 are Rwandan and 190,000 Burundian. During November there was a dramatic escalation in the number of refugees arriving in Kigoma, when 100,000 refugees came in, the majority from Burundi. Some of the recent arrivals are Zaireans who have fled the conflict in eastern Zaire, coming by boat across Lake Tanganyika.
# The sanctions against Burundi will be the subject of talks to be held in Nairobi next week between Burundi's nighbouring countries, according to a report in the East African. The paper reported Tanzanian Government sources as saying that there is pressure from all over the region to lift the sanctions. Last week a summit meeting for central african leaders in Brazzaville, Congo, called for the lifting of the sanctions, while a meeting of leaders at a Franco-African summit in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, also demanded the lifting of the embargo.
A recent FAO report on the crop and food supply situation in Burundi has drawn attention to the effects of the conflict and the embargo on the country. FAO estimates the food shortfall in 1996 at 53,000 tons of cereals, 69,000 tons of pulses, 181,000 tons of roots and tubers and 123,000 tons of bananas and plantains. Dry spells in April and May and the conflict in Bubanza, Cibitoke and Karuzi provinces - which reduced crop production in these provinces by as much as 50% - are blamed for the shortfalls. The report states that, `[A]s a result of the embargo on food imports, the nutritional status of the population in general and of the internally displaced people and dispersed populations in particular, is likely to be seriously affected.'
WFP has also drawn attention to the extremely serious consequences of the conflict in Burundi, stating that a `dramatic escalation' of the conflict has doubled the number of internally displaced people in Burundi to about 80,000 in the past few weeks. The statement followed WFP's announcement that it has been allowed to resume food deliveries to Burundi, following a decision by the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee. WFP will now be able to deliver 2,545 tonnes of food aid each month, enough to feed 130,000 people.
[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: email@example.com for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 08:39:42 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 38 2 - 8 Dec 1996 96.12.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.961210083633.14446Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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