Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 22-97, 9/19/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 22-97, 9/19/97


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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.]

IRIN Weekly Roundup 22-97 of Main Events in the Great Lakes region, covering the period 12-18 September 1997

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN team demands access to the country

Nearly four weeks after its arrival in Kinshasa, the UN investigative mission formally demanded access to the interior of the country to begin its probe into alleged refugee massacres. It called on the DRC authorities to respond by Wednesday, but a spokesman denied this amounted to an ultimatum. Government leaders however viewed this as a deadline and Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha, speaking in Brussels, rejected it as "unacceptable". He accused the mission of already drawing its conclusions, saying DRC "will not accept a situation whereby a report is issued before a mission is carried out". Planning and Reconstruction Minister Etienne Mbaya expressed "amazement" at the mission's request to visit the northwestern town of Mbandaka - where massacres are alleged to have taken place - rather than eastern parts of the country, and said DRC would "not be bothered" if the team pulled out.

Thousands flee fighting into Rwanda

Thousands of people fled into Rwanda over the past week to escape the upsurge in fighting in eastern DRC. Rwandan radio said some 5,000 people had crossed over into Gisenyi following attacks on Congolese Tutsis by ex-FAR/Interahamwe members in the Masisi area. According to the radio, refugees said the attacks began last month when gangs of Interahamwe and anti-Tutsi Mai Mai warriors torched villages in the area.

22 die in plane crash

Twenty passengers and two crew died when a plane chartered by Feed the Hungry International (FHI) crashed as it attempted to land at an airstrip northwest of Fizi last Friday. The passengers were due to attend a Christian conference.

RWANDA: Soldiers return from DRC

Rwandan soldiers, who helped the army of President Laurent-Desire Kabila oust his predecessor Mobutu Sese Seko, continued to return home amid signs of growing tension between them and their Congolese counterparts. Aid workers said several hundred Rwandans were returning home through Goma. According to one source, 800 Mai Mai fighters had gathered at a camp near Goma, prior to induction into the DRC army, and had clashed with returning Rwandans.

Red Cross workers killed

Two national workers of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and a government official they were escorting were killed after their car was ambushed on Nkamira-Gisenyi road in northwest Rwanda last Friday. The vehicle was clearly marked with the Rwanda Red Cross emblem. The three were shot and stabbed, and their belongings stolen. A spokesman for the Federation noted that 28 Red Cross movement workers had been killed in the Great Lakes region in just over a year. "We're seeing a blatant disrespect for the emblem which is very disturbing indeed," he told IRIN.

Karamira death penalty upheld

The death penalty against a former top politician and businessman, Froduald Karamira, was upheld by Rwanda's appeal court. Karamira, a Tutsi who became a leading advocate of Hutu extremism, was sentenced to death in January for inciting genocide and personally organising killings. He is the highest-ranking defendant to be tried in Kigali.

BURUNDI: Kayanza resettlement suspended

The governor of Kayanza province suspended an ongoing resettlement programme from regroupment camps, citing insecurity in the province. According to humanitarian sources, he pinpointed Butaganzwa and Rango communes as hotspots of rebel activity. So far, seven camps have been dismantled and some 32,500 people have returned home out of a regrouped population of nearly 90,000. Meanwhile, two displaced people's camps near Bujumbura were shut down in the belief they were sheltering hardline Hutus suspected of carrying out murders and armed robberies around the capital in recent months. The camps were home to thousands of Hutus displaced from Bujumbura's Kamenge area in a military sweep two years ago.

Buyoya urged to make peace with rebels

President Pierre Buyoya, on a visit to Kampala earlier this week, was urged to make peace with Hutu rebels by his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni. The Ugandan president, who was tasked with briefing Buyoya on the decisions of the recent Dar es Salaam summit, also called on him to accept the continued mediation of former president Julius Nyerere. AFP quoted Buyoya as pledging his commitment to peace, but he insisted on a "neutral" venue for all-party peace talks. On Sunday, Buyoya travelled to DRC to discuss bilateral relations, before returning to Bujumbura.

TANZANIA: National food emergency declared

President Benjamin Mkapa on Monday declared a national food emergency and banned all exports, as WFP warned that three million Tanzanians faced severe food shortages over the next few months. Crop failure due to a prolonged drought in many regions of the country meant the estimated national food deficit was as high as 916,000 MTs, according to government figures. WFP urged donor countries to make immediate contributions to an emergency food aid operation.

People forced to eat wild fruit

Aid workers said hungry farmers were abandoning their villages and going off in search of food. A spokesman for the Christian Council of Tanzania told IRIN that in rural areas people had resorted to eating wild fruits, and in some cases they were dying from eating the wrong kinds. Concern has been expressed over the inadequacy of Tanzania's transport infrastructure to reach some of the country's more remote regions.

UGANDA: LRA child abuses condemned

In a coordinated campaign backed by UNICEF, two human rights organisations on Thursday released reports condemning the kidnapping and murder of children by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch claimed 8,000-10,000 children had been abducted in the past two years and subjected to a regime of extreme and arbitrary violence, including the forced killing of other children and the allocation of girls to LRA commanders as sex slaves. In a statement, UNICEF's Executive Director Carol Bellamy said evidence of these "unspeakable acts" was "overwhelming". She backed calls by the two rights groups that the UN Special Rapporteur on Children in Situations of Armed Conflict investigate LRA abuses.

Kony reportedly fleeing to Kenya

The state-owned 'New Vision' on Monday reported that LRA leader Joseph Kony and 700 of his followers were attempting to flee to Kenya. The paper quoted a recent LRA defector as saying Kony was being aided by his cousin Alice Lakwena, leader of the LRA's predecessor, the Holy Spirit Movement. Lakwena is a refugee in Kenya. Other press reports claimed Kony had fallen out with his backers in Khartoum, saying Sudan had cut supplies to LRA base camps.

CONGO (BRAZZAVILLE): Rival sides pound Brazzaville

Congo's warring factions, ignoring a ceasefire appeal by regional leaders, pounded each other's positions in Brazzaville with artillery on Wednesday for the third consecutive day, AFP reported. The rival forces of President Pascal Lissouba and ex-president Denis Sassou Nguesso are also believed to have brought reinforcements into the battered capital.

Nairobi, 19 September 1997, 11:00 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: Fri, 19 Sep 1997 13:25:49 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 22-97 12-18 Sep 1997 97.9.19 Message-ID: <>

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

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