Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 5/26 - 6/1 1996

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 5/26 - 6/1 1996

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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

This is number 11 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 other international organizations 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.

26 May - 1 June 1996

# Fifty people were killed and 26 wounded after Hutu militia attacked a camp for displaced persons in Butezi commune, central Burundi on Tuesday. Seventy dwellings were destroyed in the attack. Hutu peasants around Butezi are reported to have fled into the hills because of fears of military reprisals. Some 15 people were killed in ambushes between the provinces of Gitega and Bururi during the week. The ambushes included an attempt on the life of the Governor of Makamba province. Two of the Governor's bodyguards were killed. A senior military source said that seven attacks have been mounted in Bururi in the past two weeks and that Gitega "was caught in a total war". Fighting in northwestern Burundi, meanwhile, is reported to have left some 60,000 people without potable water. An official from ICRC said that the water mains have been damaged and that there was a serious risk of epidemics as people were drinking river water.

# France announced this week the suspension of its military cooperation with Burundi "because of security problems and the political deadlock paralysing the country". All French military personnel are to leave by 9 June. The French school in Bujumbura closed on Saturday 25 May. Some 50 French nationals left Burundi following the closure. The French Embassy is reported to have advised its nationals to leave and a Belgian diplomatic source said that the Belgium Embassy had issued a similar warning to its own nationals.

A team of US officials visited the Great Lakes region this week to press for a political solution to the continued violence. The team, headed by US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose, left Washington on 27 May for France, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi. A senior US official said that the purpose of the mission was to underpin peace efforts led by former Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere. Moose met with Burundi and Zairian leaders on Friday 31 May and with the President of Rwanda on 30 May. In Rwanda discussions centred on efforts to find peaceful solutions to the region's problems. The latest US mission follows a flurry of visits to the region by senior US officials, including National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake.

# The second round of peace talks brokered by Nyerere in Mwanza, Tanzania and postponed from May has been rescheduled for Tuesday 4 June. Reports by Zaire State Radio that the leader of Burundi's CNDD, Leonard Nyangoma, had agreed to a unilateral ceasefire to end the conflict have been denied by a CNDD spokesperson.

# UN officials have continued to seek commitments from member states for a possible emergency operation in Burundi. UN Peacekeeping Chief Kofi Annan chaired a planning meeting at UN headquarters on Tuesday with representatives of several countries including the US, UK, Netherlands and Canada. France attended as an observer. The US has offered logistical support for the operation but no troops. So far, no western power has been willing to head the mission. Africa's military chiefs, meanwhile, are meeting next week in Addis Ababa to look at ways of establishing a peacekeeping force to police the continent's flash points. The OAU Chiefs of Staff for some member states will meet from 3 - 5 June. The meeting, under the auspices of the central organ of the OAU on the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa, will determine the feasibility of establishing an African capacity for peace-keeping.

# Former US President Jimmy Carter and Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko met in Geneva last weekend (25/26 May) and discussed inter alia how to speed up the repatriation of Rwandan and Burundi refugees. The two men held separate meetings with Mrs. Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A spokesperson for UNHCR said that Mrs. Ogata raised the issue of Masisi with President Mobutu. During a brief visit to Europe, Carter told news agencies that President Mobutu had agreed to allow international observers to monitor the airports at Goma and Bukavu as part of efforts to stop the illegal sale of arms to the former Rwandan Government. In Brussels, Carter briefed European officials on his efforts to organise a conference on Rwanda and Burundi.

# Over 22,000 Burundian refugees arrived in Uvira camps in Eastern Zaire between 29 April and 15 May from provinces in northwest Burundi. Daily figures dropped from a high of 3,200 on 8 May to 407 on 14 May after Zairian officials declared the crossing points on the border closed. New arrivals have been transferred to Luberizi, where existing facilities are adequate for 10,000 people, or are sheltered temporarily in other sites. Burundian refugees also continue to arrive in Ngara, Tanzania. From 85 people a day on average during the second half of April, the numbers rose to more than 165 a day in the first weeks of May. The refugees are mainly from Muyinga and Kirundo provinces.

The head of UNHCR in Burundi was quoted by Reuter News Agency as saying that after 1 July all of the 87,000 Rwandan refugees still in Burundi would be relocated in one camp in the interior of the country. The refugees, mostly Hutus, are currently living in four camps close to the Rwandan border.

# Two civilians have been appointed as Governors of Gitega and Cibitoke in Burundi. The last Governor of Gitega fled the province in April because of insecurity. His replacement resigned one week after he was appointed following a series of political assassinations. The last Governor of Cibitoke was assassinated in mid-May, together with two members of the National Assembly. At a news briefing in Bujumbura, Burundi's President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya described the men's agreement to accept the assignments as courageous. According to FRODEBU, seven provincial governors have been assassinated in the last two and a half years.

# Survivors of the Mokoto monastery massacre in Masisi, Eastern Zaire have continued to arrive in Gisenyi prefecture. On 27 May some 970 refugees crossed into Rwanda following their transport to the border by private means. Some were severely injured. Malnutrition in Umubano camp (previously known as the Petite Barriere camp) remains a concern and WFP is supplying supplementary rations to all malnourished children. Since the end of March 11,879 Zairian refugees have crossed the border into Rwanda. The Chief of Staff of Zaire's Army has accused Hutus from Rwanda and Zaire of trying to create a Hutu homeland in Masisi in eastern Zaire. The Chief of Staff said that "Operation Peace" begun in April by the Zairian army to retrieve weapons from people in the area has been suspended, but may resume in two or three weeks time. A new operation to disarm indigenous "Bangilima" militia has been reported but no details are currently available.

# In response to the deteriorating situation in Masisi and Rutshuru, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has dispatched a humanitarian mission to Zaire. The mission, led by the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs with representatives from UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF arrived in Kinshasa on 31 May. Meetings have been held with the Government, UN agencies, ICRC, NGOs and donors in Kinshasa and Goma. Following the Zaire mission, the UN team will travel to Burundi to meet with UN agencies regarding humanitarian contingency planning.

# The first three genocide suspects to appear before the UN International Tribunal for Rwanda pleaded not guilty this week to genocide and crimes against humanity. Georges Rutaganda, a vice-president of the Interahamwe militia and Jean Paul Akayesu, a former Government official in Taba Commune Gitarama province faced a total of twenty- two charges alleging their involvement in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Both men were remanded in custody. Trial dates of 19 September for Rutaganda and 3 October for Akayesu have been set. The third accused, Clement Kayinshema, the former prefet of Kibuye, appeared before the Tribunal on Friday. Kayinshema is alleged to be one of the most senior organisers of the genocide. All three had been detained in Zambia.

Also this week, an appeals court in Cameroon ruled that twelve other suspects in prison in Cameroon be handed over to the Tribunal. Amongst the twelve is the former Rwandan Army Colonel, Theoneste Bagosora, described by the Rwandan Government as one of the most wanted men in connection with the 1994 massacres and genocide. Tribunal Registra Andronico Adede will visit Cameroon to make the arrangements for the extradition and transport. Tribunal President, Judge Laity Kama, said on Friday that the prosecution had issued requests for national courts in Belgium, Switzerland and Cameroon to defer to the Tribunal's jurisdiction. In international law the UN Tribunal outranks a national court. The Dutch Government also said on Friday that it would ask the Tribunal to investigate charges against a Rwandan aid worker with a Dutch aid organisation. African Rights has accused the man, Innocent Mazimpaka, of directing the massacre of thousands of people in Gatare in Cyangugu. Mazimpaka has denied the charges.

# Seventeen people, including six children, were killed last weekend in Rwanda's southern border regions. Gunmen shot dead nine members of one family in Kibungo region and eight others were killed in three separate incidents in Cyangugu. The Governor of Cyangugu has warned expatrate aid workers to take extra caution against possible attacks by extremist Hutu insurgents. His warning follows increased Hutu guerilla activity in the area despite the reinforcement of RPA troops. Several villages in the border areas have become "no-go" areas for aid workers because of mines.

# A new ICRC record has been set with two million messages sent by relatives seperated by the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Of the two million messages, many were from people trying to trace family members. 200,000 were sent from or to some of the 73,000 detainees being held in Rwandan jails.

# Rebels blew up a key bridge and fought a pitched battle with Ugandan Government troops in the biggest attack so far in their campaign to restore former dictator Idi Amin. A force of some 400 rebels of the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) destroyed the bridge 320 miles north of Kampala on the main route to the Sudan border on Wednesday. A military spokesman said that the Army had killed 31 of the rebels. The Army said earlier this week that 2,000 WNBF rebels had crosed from Sudan into Uganda and had split up into smaller groups. The WNBF surfaced in May last year saying it was fighting to remove President Yoweri Museveni and reinstate Amin. Amin, 71, has been in exile in Saudi Arabia since fleeing Uganda in 1979. Uganda claims that the WNBF is backed by Sudan and Zaire. The Government also stated this week that intelligence reports indicate that the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army plan a major offensive against government positions in the north.

# On Wednesday nine officials from the Tanzania Railways Corporation, including a ferry captain, were remanded in custody after being charged with causing the deaths of 615 people. The victims were passengers aboard the Mv Bukoba which sank in Lake Victoria on 21 May. Divers trying to recover the bodies of passengers say that the eventual death toll could exceed 1,000 people. The ship was licenced to carry 424 passengers and 85 tonnes of cargo. Hundreds of rotting corpses are still trapped inside the ferry and pose a huge health risk.

# Zairian soldiers are reported to have opened fire on civilians in Goma town after three of their comrades were killed in an ambush. Aid workers said that it was not clear whether anyone was hurt in the shooting. The incident, on Sunday 26 May, follows a series of attacks on convoys in the area.

# UNHCR has reported that the Zairian Camp Security Contingent has seperated a further 18 intimidators from Goma camps, bringing the total moved out of the camps since the operation began in December to 37.

# No new cases of cholera have been reported in sites on Idjwe Island, Eastern Zaire for two weeks. The regional medical inspector is due to lift the quarantine which was imposed on the island on 16 May. Two sites were affected by the outbreak which claimed four lives.

# The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has described the food situation in sub-Saharan Africa as precarious and said that an estimated 22 million people in the region faced a food emergency. In a report released in Nairobi, FAO said that about nine million people face food shortages in the East African region alone.

# Rwanda is reported to be preparing to ask a Nairobi court to order the Kenyan Government to release one of its diplomats. Mr. Francis Mugabo was arrested in February and is accused of attempting to assassinate Rwanda's former Interior Minister, Seth Sendashonga. According to a Rwandan official an attempt to send a special envoy to Nairobi to resolve the matter was thwarted by the Kenyan Government.

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From: Christopher Hurd <> Date: Mon, 3 Jun 1996 19:23:25 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up 26 May - 1 June (96.6.1) (fwd) Message-Id: <>

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

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