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Hundreds of dead among the displaced persons in southern Rwanda

22-04-1995 News Release 95/13

Geneva (ICRC) - Within the last five days the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has witnessed a steady deterioration of the situation in the displaced camps around Gikongoro, resulting in thousands of casualties in Kibeho camp.

ICRC delegates reported throughout the day increasing violence in Kibeho camp that has been surrounded since the 18th April by forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), attempting to return the displaced to their communes of origin. The encircled persons became more and more desperate, having been confined under extreme conditions for the last few days. Some have tried to force their way through the army cordon. Automatic rifle fire and grenade explosions were observed by ICRC delegates late Saturday afternoon, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and a very large number of wounded.

Earlier in the day, ICRC delegates witnessed an exodus of displaced persons from Kibeho camp towards Butare. In late afternoon, wounded and dead could be seen alongside the road. By nightfall, at least 15'000 people were left behind in Kibeho camp. Given the circumstances, their fate is uncertain.

On Saturday, all attempts by the ICRC to deliver emergency supplies of water and food to Kibeho camp have failed, at first due to the lack of cooperation from the authorities on the spot, later on due to the security situation. ICRC medical evacuations were not authorized either.

The ICRC appeals to the Rwandan authorities to refrain from further indiscriminate acts of violence in Kibeho and the other camps. At the same time the ICRC appeals to the authorities to be granted immediate and unlimited access ins ide the different camps to provide the displaced with urgently needed medical and food aid.