Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rebels Asked to Account for 80,000 Missing Refugees in Zaire UN Officials Met with Leader Kabila Seeking a Way to Locate and Aid the Vanished Rwandans

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rebels Asked to Account for 80,000 Missing Refugees in Zaire UN Officials Met with Leader Kabila Seeking a Way to Locate and Aid the Vanished Rwandans

Article excerpt

Concern is mounting over the future of thousands of Rwandan refugees who have been cut off from international assistance for more than a week by Zairean rebels.

Aid workers say they have been able to find only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 refugees who have vanished into the dense forests after three days of reported fighting between Zairean rebels, villagers, and Hutu militants.

The crisis has become a public relations fiasco for rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila. On Friday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan accused the rebels of a policy of "slow extermination" toward the Rwandan Hutu refugees. In a radio address, Mr. Kabila denied the charges, calling the refugee crisis "a little problem." UN officials met with Kabila in Kisangani, Zaire, over the weekend to find a way to protect the refugees and gain immediate access to them. Aid workers say this is the only way to get food and medicine to the refugees, who are apparently too frightened to come out of the forest. Tension had risen in recent days between the Rwandans and impoverished local Zaireans, who resent the assistance the refugees have received. Rwandan Hutu refugees fleeing one camp this weekend reported that Zairean villagers had massacred hundreds of refugees there. In addition, a train carrying supplies was attacked, and food warehouses have been looted. More than 80,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees had been living outside of this rebel-controlled northern city on the Zaire River. Efforts to return them to Rwanda met with many obstacles, including security problems and the taking by the rebels of fuel needed for refugee transport. "We're very concerned about ... the general security for the Zairean villagers, and for the refugees themselves," says Paul Stromberg, spokesman for the UN refugee agency in Kisangani. Human rights workers in the region say thousands of refugees and Zairean civilians have been killed since the rebellion to topple Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko erupted seven months ago. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.