Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 3-97 5-11 May 97 97.13.5

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 3-97 5-11 May 97 97.13.5

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for the Great Lakes

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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]

IRIN Weekly Roundup 3-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 5 May - 11 May 1997.

ZAIRE: Mobutu returns to Zaire

Despite speculation to the contrary, Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko returned to Kinshasa on Saturday following a summit meeting on the Great Lakes Crisis in Libreville, Gabon where he met with the presidents of Togo, Gabon, Chad, Congo, Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea as well as Cameroon's foreign minister. During the summit, Mobutu announced his intention not to seek re-election due to health reasons. A possible constitutional mechanism for the transfer of power also emerged from the summit. The official communique urged the Zairean High Council of the Republic's Transitional Parliament (HCR-PT) to elect a president/ chairman "to enable the regular functioning of institutions and favour an orderly and democratic transition." Observers believe that Mobutu could bow out by transferring power to the President of the HCR-PT, a position which has remained vacant since the forced resignation of Archbishop Monsignor Monsengwo Pasinya in 1995, following his support of the 1994 Kengo compromise government.

Following the Libreville statement, Archbishop Monsengwo was re-elected as President of the HCR-PT on Saturday. The Archbishop, who said he was suprised by the offer, returned to Kinshasa from Brussels on Sunday. He said he will seek "national and international guarantees" as well as approval from the Catholic Church before accepting the role. Many view the Archbishop as a true adherent to political pluralism and democratic transformation. However, opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi denounced the vote and rejected the Archbishop as a "Mobutist".

ZAIRE: Advancing ADFL forces outline plans for Zaire's future government

Rejecting the Libreville plan, an ADFL spokesperson claimed that the transition would be undertaken by the Alliance alone. To underscore the point, the ADFL announced plans for their new government which entails the dissolution of the current government and its replacement with a broad-based national unity government in which Etienne Tshisekedi and the Sacred Union Alliance would be given an undefined but "definite place". Former Mobutist forces would be excluded from the new government.

ADFL Justice spokesperson Mwenze Kongolo denied claims by South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki that Kabila had pledged to freeze the ADFL advance towards Kinshasa pending the second round of peace talks. The ADFL further stated that expatriates in Kinshasa could become targets in an attempt to trigger international intervention in the ADFL advance on Kinshasa. Although embassies continued to withdraw their personnel and the UN has moved to Phase 4 on the security scale, pulling out all non-essential staff, Kinshasa was reportedly quiet all week.

ADFL forces claim to have advanced beyond Kenge, 200 kms east of Kinshasa, to the Wamba river. Heavy street fighting in Kenge last week resulted in the death of some 200 civilians and 100 Zairean soldiers. Ten Red Cross workers, who were assisting the wounded, were also among the dead. ADFL forces are closing in on Kinshasa from two other fronts; the south and northeast. Bandundu, 400 kms northeast of Kinshasa, fell to ADFL troops without a fight on or around 7 May. From the South, ADFL forces claimed to be advancing from Mbaza-Ngungu, 120 kms south of Kinshasa in Bas Zaire. An ADFL spokesperson alleged that UNITA and Rwandan Hutus were fighting alongside Zairean forces on all the fronts. UNITA alleged that Angolan government forces were supporting the rebels.

ZAIRE: Foreign bankers meet with Kabila

The ADFL advance has not yet reached Kinshasa but has arrived close enough to reassure prospective investors. A 30-member delegation of foreign bankers organized by American Mineral Fields arrived in Lubumbashi on 9 May to meet and discuss investment opportunities with Kabila. Representation from both US political parties were included in the group. The US State Department later criticized the rush to make deals with the rebel forces.

ZAIRE: Repatriation efforts continue in a race against the clock

Aid workers in Kisangani continued to work around the clock to meet an ADFL deadline of 30 June for the repatriation of all refugees. The ADFL have latterly said the deadline is only a "target". Since April 27 1997, some 18,614 refugees have been repatriated by air from Kisangani to Rwanda. The repatriation faces difficult logistical conditions while some NGOs have criticized the haste with which the repatriation is going ahead. Moreover, the Rwandan government has also voiced its objections to any slowing of the refugee repatriatin process. Relations between the UN, the ADFL and the Rwandan goverment were strained.

Efforts to locate the weakened refugees scattered in the forest following the April attacks on their sites, were hampered by ADFL forces, who continued to block humanitarian access to key areas. The ADFL continue to deny the existance of a policy of restricted access citing special security circumstances as the reason for the access problem. In a meeting between the UN and ADFL officials on 9 May an agreement was reached for an interagency team to travel south of Biaro as far as kilometre 82.

Refugees continue to arrive at Biaro, the main refugee site. MSF claims severe malnutrition rates at the site are a staggering 60% with some 40 deaths reported daily. The strain and speed of the repatriation process has been too much for the weakest of the refugees, leading MSF to denounce the repatriation effort as "inhuman and inadmissable".

Refugees arriving in Kigali are sent to the Runda transit camp west of Kigali. In compliance with the Rwandan government's request, most of them are moved on to their home communes within a few days. Humanitarian workers have expressed concern for the refugees who were returning to communes where health services were minimal and humanitarian access was restricted due to security reasons.

ZAIRE: Refugees in Mbandaka area

Some 50,000 Rwandan refugees, including a significant number of ex-FAR and Interahamwe members, arrived in the Mbandaka area, close to the Congolese border. WFP and aid workers started a food distribution to the refugees, many of whom are said to be exhausted and starving. At one point, due to insecurity and attempted looting, WFP was forced to relocate the food barge further along the river.

ZAIRE: Human rights mission to ADFL-held territory calls it quits

Refugees arriving in Kisangani told AFP that "Kinyarwanda-speaking" fighters had killed about 100 men from their group. The refugees who claimed to have fled Kasese said there were "many corpses" in the forests and refugees had come under repeated attacks. As more allegations of human rights violations by the ADFL continue to mount, the UN human rights investigative mission decided to pull out of Kigali following a stalemate with the ADFL over the issuing of the necessary clearances. ADFL officials continue to deny access to the mission, objecting to the inclusion in the mission of Roberto Garreton, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Zaire. Garreton conducted an initial March mission and wrote the ensuing report which the ADFL labelled as "shallow " and "irresponsible". The mission, lacking an alternative recourse, said it will produce a report from available information.

ZAIRE: Diplomatic shuttle missions continue

The US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson continued to shuttle between concerned parites, both in Europe and the Great Lakes, in his search for a peaceful outcome to the crisis. South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki also embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the affected countries in an effort to close the gaps between Kabila and Mobutu. French envoy Gen. Jeannou Lacaze visited Lubumbashi for talks with Kabila. The second set of face-to-face talks is tentatively scheduled to take place next Wednesday.

ANGOLA: UNHCR refused access to Rwandan refugees

The Angolan government refused to grant UNHCR permission to visit areas where Rwandan refugees, including armed elements of the ex-FAR, are reported to be arriving from Zaire. Concurrently, rumours abound of Angolan assistance to the ADFL. UNITA maintained its allegations that Angolan troops are being airlifted into Lubumbashi to aid the ADFL forces. Moreover, IPS, citing un-named sources, reported a build-up of Angolan troops near Dundo, in northeastern Angola.

CONGO: Internal security problems amid refugee and foreign troop arrivals

MSF reported that some 8,000 Rwandan refugees had crossed from Zaire into the Congo at Lukolele and Iranga. MSF also confirmed the presence of 13,000 Rwandan refugees at Wenji near Mbandaka on the Zairean side of the Congo-Zaire border.

In the Congo capital, Brazzaville, some 3-4,000 soldiers from the US, France, Belgium, Portugal and Britain are on alert in preparation for an eventual evacuation of their nationals from Kinshasa. As the number of international troops and refugees continued to rise, 30 Congolese non-commissioned officers blocked traffic near the defence ministry building in Brazzaville in an effort to force the national assembly to pass a law on army re-organization.


Some 60 members of the ex-FAR, currently in the border town of Zongo, have requested asylum in the Central African Republic (CAR). To date, some 2,500 ex-FAR soldiers have arrived in CAR and been disarmed by Congolese troops, reported RFI.

BURUNDI: Government reorganization

Burundi's presidential spokesperson Jean-Luc Ndizeye resigned from his post on 7 May, following a newspaper report in which an anonymous speaker described the Rwandans as "puppets of Museveni". His resignation also came on the heels of a cabinent reshuffle in which six new ministers were added, but the top three positions remained unchanged.

BURUNDI: Violence in the south aimed at discouraging repatriation

Violence in southern Burundi, between Hutu rebel groups and the Tutsi-dominated national army, continued with attacks spreading into the province of Bururi, home to many Tutsi military elite. Humanitarian agencies feel that Hutu rebels based in Tanzania have stepped up a campaign of violence and propaganda aimed at discouraging refugees from returning.

Further incidence of violence hit closer to the capital. On May first, a Swiss nun and her driver were killed when their vehicle hit an anti-tank mine, the 12th mine incident in or near Bujumbura since March. AFP reported that 95 people have been detained since April 22 at Kamenge barracks outside Bujumbura on charges of collaborating with the rebels.

BURUNDI: Health concerns

The WHO, identifying some 20,000 cases of typhus, reported that Burundi was suffering the worst outbreak since World War II.

Officials in north Bubanza province reported several cases of adult malnutrition, accounting for some 20% of new hospital admisssions. The increase was attributed to the recent emergence of internally displaced people who had hidden in the forests and marshes for up to three years.

TANZANIA: Burundian Hutu rebel talks

Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere chaired talks in Dar es Salaam between the the main Hutu-dominated political party FRODEBU and the extremist Hutu rebel group, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD). The meeting was attended by international observers from the UN, EU, Canada, South Africa, and Belgium.

RWANDA: Security problems continue

The Rwandan government stepped up its operations in the north and northwest to root out ex-FAR and Interahamwe forces, whom they claimed had arrived from areas of Zaire and "infiltrated" the population.

Local authorities in the communes of Mubuga and Mudasomwa claim that some 25 people were killed last month by recent returnees.

RWANDA: Death sentences upheld

The death sentences handed down to three genocide suspects was upheld by a court of appeals in Nyabisindu, Butare prefecture on 5 May. Ten genocide suspects were also shot dead by a prison guard following and alleged prison break in Maraba commune.

SUDAN: Uganda and Sudan reach agreement as food security improves

President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya chaired a surprise meeting in Eldoret between the Presidents of Uganda and Sudan on Saturday. Both sides agreed to release all military and civilian captives on both sides, and pledged to "cease accusations and counter accusations". On the food production side things look to improve in Sudan, which is expected to enjoy a bumper harvest for wheat and sorghum. However, the FAO warns that the food situation in some regions, notably Darfur, Kordofan, Red Sea State and the South, remain precarious due to the civil war. Fighting continued in Southern Sudan, with SPLA attacks reported within 65 kms of Juba. OLS also reported that bombs were dropped on Yei for the fourth time since 10 April.

SUDAN: Operation Lifeline Sudan denied permission to use Juba Tower

On 6 May, the airtraffic control system at Juba refused clearance to three OLS flights scheduled to land in Southern Sudan. Humanitarian sources claimed the two-day suspention was a deliberate attempt to harrass OLS operations and undermine access to the SPLA-held areas of Southern Sudan.

United Nations: Update on UN Consolidated Appeal

DHA's Financial Tracking service reports that the UN Consolidated Appeal for the Great Lakes (excluding Rwanda), has been informed of donations totalling $199.4 million for UN emergency programmes in the region during 1997, including about $64.5 million of carryover from last year, while donations reported by donors for non-UN projects (mainly the Red Cross Movement and international NGOs) total $131.6 million. Donations for the UN agencies represent 61% of the requirements of $324.5 million. Both UNHCR and WFP are over 70% funded, UNICEF is 21.5% funded, but several of the smaller UN agencies (FAO, UNHCHR, UNESCO, UNV and WHO) are yet to receive significant donations. DHA had received confirmed contributions of $149,790 as of May 7, but further contributions are already in the pipeline.


[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. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 18:47:56 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 3-97 5-11 May 97 97.13.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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