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Update No. 96/7 on ICRC activities in Zaire

20-11-1996 Operational Update

As the tide of refugees returning to Rwanda slows, efforts by the ICRC continue to locate and reach the large groups of displaced Zairians, Zairians affected by the conflict, Rwandan refugees and Burundian refugees still remaining in eastern Zaire. In Gisenyi, Rwanda, the ICRC is part of the international effort to provide assistance to the estimated 500,000 returnees. The ICRC's activities are concentrating especially on unaccompanied children, the sick and weak.

 Ongoing ICRC activities  

In Gisenyi, the ICRC's activities continue to focus on those who have returned to Rwanda and are moving to their home villages. Mobile teams are distributing high-energy biscuits and are supplying safe drinking water through bladder tanks set up along the road to Ruhengeri. An additional 40 tonnes of biscuits as well as water and sanitation materials were sent to Gisenyi on Monday. A total of 2,634 unaccompanied minors has been identified and registered, most of whom are being transferred to Nkamira or Ruhengeri. Food and non-food assistance for these children is being provided by the ICRC. Some 150 children have been photographed and their pictures will exhibited at various points between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri. ICRC delegates were able to reunite 445 families on the spot.

A group of about 480 unaccompanied minors has been transferred by the ICRC to Kigali, where they are being accommodated by the Belgian Red Cross. The ICRC has supplied 500 blankets for this purpose. ICRC teams are also registering and caring for unaccompanied minors in Byumba. To facilitate tracing services, specially printed Red Cross messag es have been sent to Kigali.

In Goma, eastern Zaire, the ICRC has resumed its activities, which focus on providing medical assistance in the hospitals and evacuating unaccompanied minors, and the wounded, weak or sick remaining in and around the camps west of Goma. In the city of Goma the water supply system has broken down, as a result of an electrical failure affecting the water pumps. To help solve the problem the ICRC will bring generators to Goma to restore the water supply.

Personnel reinforcements have arrived in Rwanda, Goma and Kinshasa.

Access to the displaced people and refugees remaining in eastern Zaire continues to be blocked. No permission has been given to enter Bukavu and Uvira. Administrative and practical difficulties in Kinshasa persist. Large groups of refugees are thought to be moving between Bukavu and Sake. An ICRC team is standing ready in Cyangugu, Rwanda, to enter Bukavu as soon as possible or to assist in case of a large influx of refugees in this area.