Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Roundup, 5/11-17,'96

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Roundup, 5/11-17,'96

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 441125
Fax: +254 2 448816

This is number 9 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN, NGO, ICRC 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.


# Burundi's President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya said on Thursday that he has given the Burundi Army a week to clamp down on terrorists and stop the rampant violence that has raised fears of an ethnic and political bloodbath. In a meeting with high-ranking security officials, the President was quoted as accusing the Army of being incompetent or accomplices to the extremists blamed for much of the recent violence. The President did not specify what action would be taken if the military failed to heed his orders, but analysts say that the Government appears powerless to halt the violence. The leader of the Hutu rebels in Burundi, Leonard Nyangoma, has said that he is ready to halt the fighting if the Army returns to the barracks and agrees to direct negotiations with his movement on the country's future.

As security remained precarious throughout the country, top US officials, the OAU and the UN Security Council reiterated their concerns about Burundi's continued deterioration. Anthony Lake, US President Clinton's National Security Adviser - the highest- level US visitor to Burundi during its present crisis - delivered a stern warning to Burundian extremists and threatened them with international prosecution if violence continued. Lake said that the US would ensure that any group attempting to seize power through a military coup would be isolated by the international community and feel the full weight of international law.

The UN Security Council called this week for urgent contingency planning for a humanitarian intervention force into Burundi in the event of further widespread violence. The call came in response to the 7 May report of UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in which the Secretary-General reported that states had expressed a readiness in principle to consider providing assistance but none had volunteered to take the lead in planning, deploying and commanding the operation. The US has volunteered logistic support and help with the planning and last week sent a team of military experts to New York to consult with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. In a formal statement on Wednesday, the Council expressed concerns at reports of large-scale killings in Buhoro and Kivyuka and stressed the need for a political settlement. Expressing its full support for the ongoing efforts of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who is attempting to mediate in the conflict, the Council called on all parties to make full use of the upcoming meeting in Mwanza, Tanzania on 22 May to achieve progress towards national reconciliation.

The OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim made a passionate plea on Friday to all Burundian leaders to set aside their differences and engage in an open and sincere dialogue on resolving the current conflict. The OAU condemned the massacre of innocent people and said that the recent level of violence was unparalleled.

# The civilian Governor of Cibitoke was killed in an ambush on 13 May and a senior Hutu foreign ministry official was shot down in Bujumbura on Wednesday night. The chairman of FRODEBU recently said that 77 FRODEBU officials had been assassinated in the last three years. In a joint statement, the four parties in the presidential coalition said that they had received consistent reports of a plan - set up by elements of the security forces and militia - to exterminate their members. The plan is said to have the tacit support of some opposition parties.

# An official inquiry into the alleged massacre at Buhoro on 26 April has found that 118 people were killed and that the killers were probably Hutu rebels and/or refugees. The inquiry which was launched by Burundi's National Security Council, followed accusations by humanitarian sources that the army had killed at least 230 civilians at Buhoro. Three army officers and a civilian representing the military, the Presidency and the Prime Minister's office carried out the investigation. The Buhoro report said that eye-witnesses variously affirmed the massacre was committed either by soldiers, displaced Hutus or strangers speaking Kinyarwanda. The report said that only 29 of the bodies found could be identified by local people. An independent inquiry by UN Human Rights Observers has not yet been released. A second inquiry is continuing into the alleged massacre on 3 May in Kivyuka. Some sources have said that hundreds of civilians were killed. The army said this week that only 29 bodies have been found and that Hutu rebels dug false graves to dupe local people into thinking the death toll was much higher.

# A Zairian delegation headed by the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of external relations visited Burundi early this week to discuss with the Government of Burundi the closure of the Burundi/Zaire border and accusations that Zaire is being used as a base by Hutu guerrillas. The visit paved the way for the visit of Zairian Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo who arrived in Bujumbura over the weekend. This is the first visit at this level between the two countries in two years. As a gesture of peace, on Friday 17 May the two countries exchanged two Burundian soldiers for two Zairian soldiers and twenty civilians captured last week during a border incident.

# As a result of intense fighting in Bubanza and Citiboke an upsurge in the numbers of refugees crossing into Zaire has been reported. Approximately 23,000 refugees have crossed into Uvira camps since 29 April. Some 85 people were also reported crossing each day into western Tanzania during late April. This increased during the first two weeks of May to an average of 170 a day.

# Some humanitarian activities were temporarily suspended in the northern provinces of Burundi in the reporting period due to threats to relief personnel. Power to Bujumbura continued to be cut for most of the period following attacks by Hutu rebels on power lines. Bujumbura is also reported to have come under armed attack seven times so far this month and to date, there have been eleven reported security incidents involving expatriate personnel in the capital.

# The UN technical mission dispatched to Burundi in April to establish the feasibility of a UN Radio Station for Burundi has concluded that the proposition was not viable at the present time. The mission, comprising members of the Departments of Political Affairs, Public Information and Peace-Keeping Operations, cited the volatile security situation as the primary reason against such an undertaking. Difficulties associated with broadcasting programmes in Kirundi were also raised. The Mission recommended looking at ways of supporting other media initiatives, including radio broadcasts, which were already underway in Burundi.

# On 14 May Hutu combatants attacked the monastery at Mokoto north Kivu, Eastern Zaire where 815 Tutsis had sought an undetermined number refuge. During the attack, 10 people were killed and 30 wounded. The rest of the population fled. Later 700 Tutsis arrived in Kichanga, just to the north, but 60 people were reported missing. Their whereabouts have still to be established. The 700 recent arrivals at Kichanga joined the 27,000 displaced people already living in the town, of whom 1300 were of Tutsi ethnicity. The majority of the displaced people are from the Hunde ethnic group, although there are also a small number of Hutus.

The latest estimate of the number of Tutsis in Kichanga puts the total figure at 1500, including the recent arrivals, which suggests that either 500 Tutsis have left Kichanga in recent weeks or the original figure was overestimated. According to Reuters, Rwandan state radio had reported that 750 Tutsis had been massacred at Mokoto. The Rwandan authorities have declared that the world is ignoring ethnic cleansing and genocide in Eastern Zaire. On 15 May Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu called on world leaders to ensure the safety of minority groups in Kivu and slow the flow of Zairean refugees into Rwanda. As of 13 May, there were 6,028 Zairian refugees at the Petite Barriere refugee camp and 2,134 at the Nkamira transit centre in Gisenyi Rwanda. Over 1,000 shelters have been constructed at the Petite Barriere camp. The nutritional status of refugees in the Petite Barriere camp is cause for concern.

# Twenty-two Rwandan detainees died in two crowded detention centres in Kivumu Commue, Kibuye prefecture in Rwanda during the period 11-12 May. Seventeen prisoners died in one jail during the night of 11-12 May when fighting broke out among detainees who were complaining of lack of air and heat in the cell. The cell, approximately 5 by 4 meters, contained 94 persons. Guards on duty are reported to have refused to open the door for fear that the detainees would escape. In the second detention centre in the same commune, five people died from suffocation between 11 and 12 May. The centre held 296 detainees in three cells. The Prefet of Kibuye told officials from the Human Rights Field Office in Rwanda that the local authorities were aware of the overcrowding and had started work on the rehabilitation of one more cell.

HRFOR reported that in April there were 42 detainee deaths - five from suffocation and 37 from illness. At the end of April, the detainee population in the 13 central prisons was 49,557 - a rise of almost 1,500 since the end of March. The total number of detainees in all known placed of detention in Rwanda as of mid May was around 71,000. The rate of arrests and, hence, overcrowding in prisons and village lock-ups in the western prefectures has worsened following the issuing of new identify cards as part of efforts to fight insurgency from Zaire.

# During April, HRFOR received reports of the killings of 174 persons in 45 separate incidents: 157 deaths occurred in the four prefectures bordering Zaire. According to reports, an estimated 124 of the victims were killed by members of the RPA or other agents of the State and 14 by ex-FAR or Interhamwe militia. The perpetrators of the remaining 29 killings have not yet been identified. The victims included ten genocide survivors or witnesses, two returnees and seven civilian authority representatives. Twenty-eight of those killed were women and children. Although no new mine incidents have been reported from western Rwanda since 21 April, the RPA recently warned NGOs and other international agencies in Cyangugu not to travel on dirt roads in the early morning due to the possibility of new mines. Since the beginning of 1996 there have been 21 reported anti-tank/anti-personnel mines detonated in Rwanda.

# Negotiations are continuing between the UN and the Rwanda Government over the proposed UN Office for Rwanda. A UN spokesperson said on 16 May that it had been proposed that the new UN office be established for an initial period of 6 months at a cost of around US$ 1.3 million. The functions of the office would be determined to a large degree on the wishes of the Government of Rwanda but would possibly encompass the following: support and advice to the government, as desired, on political aspects of Rwanda's problems, national reconciliation and return of refugees; advocacy with UN system and international community at large and high level coordination of all the activities of the UN system not just the developmental and humanitarian activities that fall within the purview of the UN Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator. Initial plans were that the office would include the UN radio station. The Rwandan Government has confirmed its acceptance of the UN office in principle but has rejected the radio station proposal.

# On Wednesday the French Parliament authorized the International Tribunal to pursue its investigations in France. The National Assembly unanimously approved legislation which allows French courts to try suspects in the Rwandan genocide who reside in France but with the proviso that they must leave cases to the International Tribunal if so requested. Last month the Tribunal's Chief Prosecutor accused France of dragging its heels on the legislation. French officials blamed the delays on scheduling problems rather than attempts to stall the Tribunal's work. The first trials of the Tribunal are scheduled to begin in Arusha in July. The Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland have agreed to second country nationals to the Tribunal to work in the Office of the Prosecutor in Kigali as investigators.

A court in Cameroon this week adjourned the extradition hearing of former Rwandan army colonel, Theoneste Bagosora and 11 compatriots suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide. The hearing was adjourned until 31 May after the state prosecutor requested the case be heard in closed session. Col. Bagosora is wanted by the Governments of Rwanda and Belgium, as well as the Tribunal, for trial.

# US National Security Adviser to President Clinton, Anthony Lake and US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose visited Rwanda 14 -15 May. The US officials commended the progress made in national security matters but said there still remained a lot to be done in areas of justice and repatriation of refugees. In an earlier visit on 8-11 May, John Shattuck, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights indicated that the US would provide some funds and expert services in support of the International Tribunal.

# The dates for Rwanda's Round Table Conference in Geneva have been confirmed as 20 and 21 June. The list of participants and observers is now being prepared. The Conference will be preceded by a high level meeting of the Rwanda Operational Support group in Geneva on 19 June.

# On 19 May, two NGO vehicles were attacked on a road just south of Kibumba camp, Eastern Zaire. The attacks on EUB, a Zairean NGO and COOPI (an Italian NGO) left one local staff member dead and two wounded. Zairean camp security contingent forces responded and secured the area. Both vehicles were clearly marked with NGO/UNHCR logos. The attack took place very close to the site where CARE Australia was attacked last week.

# Zaire has returned Rwanda's second combat helicopter seized from former army forces as they fled into Zaire in 1994. The hand-over was made in the eastern Zaire province of Maniema. The UN provided logistical support for the transfer of the helicopter back to Rwanda.

# President Yoweri Museveni, elected in Uganda's first direct presidential elections, has appointed his brother as his chief military adviser. Retired Major-General Caleb Akandwanaho served with President Museveni's guerrilla force and led troops in capturing Kampala in January 1986. His appointment is seen as part of Museveni's plan to fight Christian fundamentalists in the north. President Museveni has ruled out talks with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) which has fought him since 1987 and said on Sunday that he would recruit new troops to end the insurgency.

Uganda's opposition leader, Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere says he will not stand for next month's parliamentary polls because he has lost faith in the country's electoral process. Dr. Ssemogerere who maintains that the presidential polls were rigged has called for a boycott of next month's elections. The OAU, US and other western Governments have endorsed the validity of presidential elections.

The Ugandan Cabinet was scheduled to meet on Wednesday two days after inauguration of President Museveni.


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From: Ben Parker <> Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 18:30:21 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Roundup 11-17 May 1996 96.5.17 Message-Id: <>

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

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