Zaire: IRIN Update on the conflict in South Kivu, 10/11/96

Zaire: IRIN Update on the conflict in South Kivu, 10/11/96

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

Tel: +254 2 441125 Fax: +254 2 448816 e-mail:

11 October 1996


This update attempts to give an account of recent events in the South Kivu crisis. Sources include UN agencies, NGOs, international organizations and media reports. IRIN accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the original sources.

IRIN's "Briefing on the Conflict in South Kivu, Zaire and its Regional Implications", distributed on 7 October, offers an overview of the background to the conflict in South Kivu, and describes events in September. The events described below have occurred since the report was compiled.


30 September - 5 October:

Skirmishes between Zairian troops and Banyamulenge militia result in a reported 100 casualties - mainly soldiers - reaching Uvira hospital.

A Banyamulenge spokesman in Nairobi alleges joint attacks by people of the Babembe ethnic group and Interahamwe militia on Banyamulenge villages in the following areas: in Fizi: Bibogobogo and in Mwenga: Itombwe, Tulambo, Muramvya, Nyabihoma and Nazareth.

October 6:

ICRC delivers extra medical supplies from Nairobi to Goma by air for use in Uvira hospital. ICRC also announces that the German Red Cross is to send a surgical team in support.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Lemera hospital was attacked - allegedly by Banyamulenge militia. Eyewitnesses report that 3 nurses were killed and 34 patients were shot dead. In addition, one child is reported killed during the attack. At Kidote, 2 priests and 10 other civilians were reported killed. Five vehicles, offices and the pharmacy were burnt. Twelve houses were damaged and/or looted. The electrical system was damaged and a communication radio stolen.

October 7:

In a speech to the UNHCR Executive Committee in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, mentions the situation in South Kivu as one of the "dangerous security implications" in the Rwandan refugee crisis. "Cross-border raids, the targeting of survivors of the genocide and attacks on Tutsi residents in the Kivu region of Zaire, resulting in armed resistance, are causing more deaths and are undermining prospects for reconciliation," she said.

October 8:

Zairian troops go on a "looting rampage" in Uvira for about four hours, starting at 7.30am. Cars belonging to CARE were seized, and staff of the agency were robbed.

Soldiers in Bukavu also shoot in the air for an hour when the bodies of a Zairian Army colonel and seven soldiers, killed in fighting with Banyamulenge forces, arrived in town.

South Kivu Deputy Governor Lwasi Ngabo Lwabanji gives Banyamulenge residents of South Kivu seven days to leave the area through a "corridor" (perhaps towards Rwanda, or to camps inside Zaire) or be treated as rebels and face all-out war. His press conference follows a meeting with military authorities.

October 9:

The UN Humanitarian Situation Report from Burundi states that UNHCR reports about 800 Banyamulenge in Burundi, with 300 of them in Cibitoke province. A camp for Banyamulenge has been established at Gihanga, near Bujumbura airport. The humanitarian agencies are preparing for a further influx.

Eighteen UN and NGO staff relocated from Uvira due to the deteriorating situation.

October 10:

Zairian State Radio confirms that Chief of Staff General Eluki Monga Aundu and senior aides have travelled to the region "to assess the situation prevailing there".

A Zairian government spokesman plays down the seven day ultimatum. Speaking in Kinshasa, Boguo Makeli said: "There has not been a formal government declaration in this regard. To my knowledge the government has not yet issued an ultimatum to the Banyamulenge... It's true that we all want the Banyamulenge to leave, but up to now the government has not spoken of one week."

The UN Secretary-General calls on Zaire authorities and Tutsi residents of Kivu to "do everything in their power to keep the situation calm and under control while solutions are being sought for both the immediate and underlying problems."

The Rwandan President, Pasteur Bizimungu, says that Rwanda will allow Banyamulenge women and children into the country, but will block the arrival of Banyamulenge men. "Zaire needs to accept that the Banyamulenge are also Zairians", the President added in a speech given in Cyangugu. In his speech to a rally, he adds "The point of my visit here is to assure protection of Rwanda territory, and to demonstrate that an attack on Cyangugu would mean an attack on Rwanda."

Roadblocks are set up in Bukavu, as troops and crowds of civilians sought Banyamulenge, some of whom are thrown into detention.

October 11:

Bukavu is reported calm, and relief agencies are reportedly able to travel to the camps.

Pascal-Firmin Ndimira, Burundi's current Prime Minister, denied that Burundi had any role in the past month's fighting. Burundi is "not at all involved", Ndimira said. "Burundi is deeply concerned by the deterioration of the situation in the South Kivu region, which shows that what is at issue is the propagation of an ideology of exclusion and extermination," he added. "There is a danger this could become a real powderkeg for the region," he added.

The Zairean army chief, General Eluki Monga Aundu, has declared a state of war in South Kivu. "Zaire is at war in South Kivu", Eluki told a press conference at Goma in North Kivu on Thursday, following a five-day tour of both provinces. He said the country faced aggression by the Banyamulenge.

Eluki repeated allegations that the Banyamulenge militia were supported by soldiers of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and had inflitrated Zaire via Burundi "with the complicity of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose vehicles they used." "Thus Rwanda, with the complicity of Burundi and the UNHCR, has carried out aggression against Zaire," he alleged. Both Rwanda and Burundi have strongly denied previous such claims. The UN Secretary-General categorically rejected the claims against UNHCR on 17 September.

In Geneva, the UNHCR announces that it would be relocating some expatriate aid personnel from the Uvira region by air because of the "very, very dangerous" situation.

UNHCR Nairobi says that a total of 1100 Banyamulenge people have taken refuge in Rwanda since the conflict began in early September.


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Date: Fri, 11 Oct 1996 17:07:03 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Zaire: IRIN Update on the conflict in South Kivu 11 Oct 96.10.11 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali Dinar,