Zaire gives Rwandan refugees deadline to quit

CAROLYN HENSON

Associated Press

Geneva - Zaire yesterday set a deadline of 31 December for the expulsion of 1.2 million Rwandan refugees from camps in the east of the country. Monthly quotas would be laid down to ensure the repatriations were not delayed.

"The repatriations have not been suspended nor have they been interrupted," said Zaire's Prime Minister, Leon Kengo wa Dondo.

His government had entrusted the task to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but would resume forced repatriations once the deadline expired. The agency, however, rejected any set time-scale. "The UNHCR is fully committed to mobilisation of the resources and support necessary for the repatriations to take place, but it cannot commit itself to any rigid time-frame," said a spokesman, Ron Redmond.

Zaire's announcement was made after talks between Mr Kengo and the High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata in Geneva. Ms Ogata is to fly to the area today for discussions with other leaders from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire. Key concerns are violence in the camps, the activities of Hutu extremists among the refugees, and how best to persuade the refugees to return to Rwanda.

Forced repatriation by the Zairean government earlier this month caused an estimated 173,000 people to flee into hills and forests around the camps and raised fears of another humanitarian disaster. Zaire stopped its expulsions late last week after the UNHCR agreed to resume its voluntary repatriation programme. Since then, however, only about 400 people have agreed to return.

Explosions in the area of the camps, believed to be the work of Hutu extremists, have prompted the UNHCR to order some aid workers to leave. A landmine exploded outside the offices of the Care aid agency on Monday, injuring a Zairean driver and a passenger in a UNHCR truck. A second explosion occurred in a Goma market. Dutch and Belgian physicians from the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres also said they were leaving camps in Zaire and Tanzania in protest at the control Hutus suspected of war crimes exert over the people there.

Many officials of the former Hutu government, accused of involvement in the massacres of 500,000 people - mostly Tutsis - in Rwanda last year, fled to the refugee camps in neighbouring countries. They are believed to be regrouping to attack the new government and are blamed for rumours of Tutsi retaliation against any Hutu refugees returning to Rwanda.

Mr Redmond said that the UNHCR was trying to counter the misinformation put out by the extremists with its own information campaign. "It is an extremely difficult process because they have a very, very effective network."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor