Fear of new Zaire exodus as talks fail
Monday 28 August 1995
"There could not be agreement here because the UNHCR wanted to consult at a higher level," a source said. "Expulsions could begin again this week if no agreement is found, and at this stage the signs are not good," said another government source before the talks broke down.
Zaire began to expel Rwandan and Burundian refugees from camps in the east of the country on 19 August. An outcry resulted, with protests from the UN Security Council and many Western countries calling for the forced repatriations to stop on humanitarian grounds. More than 1 million refugees fled wars in their own countries to Zaire, where they are accused of destroying the environment and economy and of introducing insecurity. Special envoy Carrol Faubert, on a mission for the UNHCR, has been meeting Zaire officials for four days trying to agree a formula to turn the forced expulsions into voluntary repatriations.
Since Zaire suspended the use of force to drive the refugees back to Rwanda, few have taken up the offer of the UNHCR to take them under its wing. The voluntary repatriation plan came to a halt on Saturday, when only 47 refugees crossed into Rwanda. The Rwandans are mostly from the Hutu majority and fled after the victory in July 1994 of rebels dominated by the Tutsi minority. Many feared reprisals for a campaign of genocide in which up to one million Tutsis were killed by Hutu soldiers and militias.
At the weekend the remaining refugees in Zaire rebuilt huts burned by Zairean soldiers last week after five days of terror aimed at forcing Rwandans to leave.
Adrien Kalinunda's family, however, did not wait for a political resolution. With his wife and six of their seven children, he boarded the single repatriation bus that chugged back to Rwanda on Saturday. Missing was 10-year-old Isabelle, who was rounded up and deported after Zairean soldiers attacked their camp last week.
Mr Kalinunda said he had wanted to go home for a long time, but extremist Hutu militias in the camps view those planning to return as traitors and sometimes kill them. "I think most people want to go back," he said. "They would have gone back a long time ago if they hadn't been prevented. But since the Zaireans attacked, the militias haven't raised their heads for a week. They're all hiding in the mountains."
The mayor, Mashako Mamba Sebi, summed up the exasperation of Goma's 200,000 people with the refugees who flooded in last year. "We are crushed here," he said. "What happened this past week was a good thing, because the international community was asleep. But if things don't move, we'll be obliged to start again."
- 1 Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...