Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up, 6/23/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up, 6/23/97


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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.]

[Please note today's daily update is incorporated in this report]

IRIN Weekly Roundup 9-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region covering the period 17-23 June 1997.

Uganda: Rebels battle army in west

Fierce clashes broke out in western Uganda after rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) overran the town of Bundibugyo on Monday. Fighting raged all week, with thousands of civilians fleeing the town. The Ugandan army claimed it had killed over 200 rebels. Press reports said some 40 civilians and two senior policemen were also killed in the fighting. Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said later the army had repulsed the rebels, who invaded from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and chased them into the Ruwenzori mountains. According to the minister, troops were now carrying out a mopping up operation. He dismissed reports that significant numbers of former Rwandan and Zairean soldiers were fighting alongside the rebels.

Uganda: Warning of serious refugee crisis

However, the state-owned 'New Vision' said today four Ugandan soldiers and one rebel were killed in a surprise rebel attack on Bundibugyo town yesterday morning. According to the 'New Vision', over 15,000 people had been displaced by the fighting in Bundibugyo. The local authorities warned of a "severe internal refugee crisis" in Bundibugyo and Kabarole districts, stressing there was a shortage of food and medicine.

Uganda: Northern rebels reportedly regrouping in Sudan

Northern Uganda rebels, the Lord's Resistance Army, were said to be regrouping in Sudan. The Ugandan army's military intelligence director Col Fred Tolit told the 'Monitor' newspaper the LRA had established new bases 34 miles south of Juba, after the destruction of their original base at Aru by the Sudan People's Liberation Army. The Sudanese government had reportedly flown top LRA officials, including leader Joseph Kony, to Khartoum so that they could reorganise themselves. According to Tolit, the LRA was planning to fight the SPLA in southern Sudan.

Sudan: Bahr-el-Ghazal people told to mobilise

The Sudanese authorities called on Khartoum residents originating from Bahr-el-Ghazal province to mobilise to defend their home areas against attack by the SPLA, which has reportedly been making significant advances in the province. Vice-President George Kongor Arop, who comes from the region, ordered the formation of a mobilisation committee to send people to training camps. Meanwhile, parliamentarians in western Sudan called for self-determination after an agreement to that effect was signed between southern rebel factions and the government earlier this year. In a memo to President Omar el-Bashir, they said the accord did not address the situation in other parts of Sudan.

Rwanda: Three local UN workers killed as northwest security worsens

The security situation in northwest Rwanda took a dramatic turn for the worse after the murder of three local UN workers. One UNHCR and two WFP employees were shot dead in the Ruhengeri area, increasing concern for national aid workers. Family members of the staff were also killed. UNHCR said it was planning to transfer to Kigali any local workers who so desired. The killings were condemned by the UN Security Council as well as by WFP and UNHCR.

Burundi: More killings as rebels and army clash

Violence again flared up in Burundi with the murder of 14 people in Bubanza province on Tuesday. Burundi radio quoted provincial governor Lt-Col Gerard Habiyo as saying the attackers were rebels who had been dislodged from Bujumbura Rural after clashes with the security forces. The dead included 11 civilians and three soldiers. The Burundi news agency ABP on Friday said two people were killed, six wounded and 11 abducted when rebels ambushed a commercial vehicle along the Bujumbura-Rumonge road. According to military spokesman Col Isaie Nibizi, civilians had been forced to flee the southern Rumonge, Buyengero and Burambi communes in Bururi province because of rebel attacks. The UN resumed missions to the northwest Cibitoke province on Wednesday, under strict security, after they were temporarily suspended following an attack on a military escort vehicle earlier this month.

Burundi: Buyoya moots idea of disbanding large regroupment camps

Burundian leader Maj Pierre Buyoya on Thursday discussed the government's regroupment policy with visiting US envoy Richard Bogosian. He said regrouped people should be allowed home where security conditions could be guaranteed, adding that large regroupment camps, housing 15,000-20,000, should be scrapped particularly because they were health hazards. Humanitarian workers who visited regroupment camps in the northern provinces of Kayanza, Karuzi and Bubanza expressed concern that people were going without food. It appeared no aid workers were based in the camps themselves, due to lack of funding and objections to regroupment although MSF in Karuzi was collecting malnourished children from the camps and taking them to feeding centres.

Burundi: Foreign Minister in DRC for talks on CEPGL

Burundi's Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama arrived in DRC Sunday for talks aimed at relaunching the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), which comprises Rwanda, DRC and Burundi. Rukingama said he hoped a revived CEPGL would enable free movement of goods, people and socio-cultural exchanges.

DRC: UN human rights team arrives

An advance UN human rights team arrived in Kinshasa on Friday, amid reports that the leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Laurent-Desire Kabila, was under pressure not to cooperate. An article in the 'Washington Post' cited western and Congolese sources as saying Rwanda and Uganda were leaning on Kabila to keep the investigators away from possible mass grave sites and potential witnesses in eastern DRC. Humanitarian assessment missions visiting eastern DRC said there was an urgent need for seeds and medicine. They also expressed concern over mined areas in the Ubundu region, between Kilometre 23 and 44 south of Kisangani. The mines were reportedly placed by Serb mercenaries fighting alongside the former Zairean army against Kabila's forces.

DRC: Ex-Zaire state officials rounded up

State television announced that leading officials of the Mobutu regime were arrested in Kinshasa, and Kabila said they would have to answer for their acts in court. The heads of all state companies were also suspended. Congolese radio, broadcasting from Bunia, on Friday said all civil servants would be paid from June 25.

Tanzania: DRC refugees register to return home

About 5,000 refugees from the former Zaire have registered for voluntary repatriation from Tanzania, according to Tanzanian radio. It noted they had been living in camps in the Kigoma area for seven months. A World Vision official, quoted by the radio, said the refugees had decided to return after former president Mobutu Sese Seko was ousted by Kabila's troops.

Congo: Ceasefire broken as parliament attacked

Gunfire was again heard in the Congolese capital Brazzaville over the weekend, despite agreement by the warring sides of President Pascal Lissouba and ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend by a week a three-day ceasefire which was due to expire midnight Friday. Reports from the capital today said Sassou Nguesso's militiamen fired heavy weapons at the parliament building and tension was mounting. Diplomatic activity intensified over the week, as UN-OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Mohamed Sahnoun shuttled between Brazzaville and Libreville, Gabon, where representatives of the two sides were attending peace talks. Clashes appeared to die down after the ceasefire came into effect midnight Tuesday. Attempts are underway to bring an African buffer force to Congo. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was trying to put the force together after being given the go-ahead by the Security Council on Saturday. On Friday, the US State Department warned that if Lissouba was ousted undemocratically, Congo risked losing US aid.

CAR: Thousands reportedly crossed from ex-Zaire

Some 50,000 Zaireans have crossed into the Central African Republic since the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL) took over DRC. According to the CAR authorities, 9,000 of these registered with the authorities. Many of them came from Equateur province and refused to be registered as refugees, the majority of them staying with friends and family along the border. A significant number of arrivals from former Zaire are believed to be armed ex-FAZ and ex-FAR members.

CAR: At least 20 killed in army mutiny

Fighting again broke out in the CAR capital Bangui over the weekend, between mutinous soldiers and members of an African peacekeeping force, killing at least 20 people. The capital has a history of clashes between rebel soldiers and troops loyal to President Ange-Felix Patasse. Last year, the city was rocked by three army mutinies. At least five French nationals were wounded when mortar bombs hit their embassy compound on Saturday. French troops stationed in CAR were deployed alongside the peacekeepers. Sporadic gunfire was still heard today, but peacekeepers appeared to be in control.

Angola: Government claims armed Rwandans in UNITA territory

Angolan government troops have reportedly agreed to stop battling former UNITA rebels in Lunda Norte province. On Friday, Angolan television said government spokesman, General Higino Carneiro, denied there was a "conventional war" in the diamond-rich province. The spokesman added that at least 500 armed men, believed to be Rwandan Hutus, had been detected in Mbuia, an area under UNITA control in Lunda Norte. He said the government would attempt to identify and repatriate these people who had crossed over from DRC. According to AFP, the police chief of the northwest Uige province claimed white mercenaries were in two provincial localities, and local radio warned a UNITA attack on Uige town was imminent.

Angola: Cabinda separatists clash with army

Separatists in the northern Angolan enclave of Cabinda on Saturday claimed over 100 people were killed in 10 days of fighting. AFP said that according to a statement by the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front (FLEC-R), clashes with Angolan government troops took place between Belize in north Cabinda and Kimongo in neighbouring Congo (Brazzaville). The statement said the attacks were launched by government troops, supported by armoured vehicles, and it accused the government of violating Congolese territory in its hunt for UNITA forces and Cabinda refugees. Cabinda, the statement added, was under Angolan military occupation.

Nairobi, 23 June 1997, 15:15 gmt [ENDS]

[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: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 18:15:22 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 9-97 17-23 June 1997 97.6.23 Message-ID: <>

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

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