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Update No. 96/9 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis

26-11-1996 Operational Update

On 23 November, the ICRC was able to return to Bukavu. However, access to vast numbers of Zairian displaced, Zairians affected by the conflict, Rwandan refugees and Burundian refugees who remain without assistance and protection, has still not been granted. Furthermore, there are growing indications that bloodshed and violence are taking place in some inaccessible areas of eastern Zaire.

Since entering the town of Bukavu on Saturday, ICRC delegates have carried out a survey of hospitals in the area and of the general food situation. On the basis of its findings, the ICRC submitted a plan of action to the leadership of the rebels for the provision of assistance. Access to the town of Uvira is still being discussed.

In Bukavu, the ICRC has already supplied 6.5 tonnes of water purification materials, including chlorine, aluminium sulphate and lime, for a lake-water treatment plant. Under its plan of action, the ICRC will provide fuel and water purification materials to Bukavu for the next six months.

ICRC delegates met in Bukavu with the president of the Zairian Red Cross in South Kivu to discuss the plan of action. Delegates have been informed that National Society volunteers buried 525 people killed in fighting after 28 October when the ICRC had to evacuate the town.

In Goma, the ICRC is supporting three hospitals with equipment, medicine and food rations. In conjunction with other humanitarian organizations, it also supports three out of seven dispensaries on the periphery of the city. During the weekend, over 4,000 people passed through the dispensary at Mugunga, which is run jointly with religious sisters from Spain. Many of these people were treated for wounds, various diseases and exhaustion.

Six ICRC trucks managed to cross the border to Goma last Friday with 20 tonnes of biscuits, 18 tonnes of food for hospitals, 1,000 blankets and six generators. The ICRC intends to restore its previous assistance programme to hospitals in the Masisi area as soon as they become accessible.

Additional relief goods were brought to Kisangani by two ICRC-chartered Hercules cargo planes on 24 and 25 November. The next flight to Kisangani is expected to arrive on Wednesday, 27 November. Owing to very difficult road conditions only one of the four trucks sent from Kisangani to Walikale reached the town of Lubutu. The cargo of this ICRC truck was looted.

An ICRC team went to Kindu on a joint flight with the UNDHA, UNHCR and UNICEF to enquire about a possible influx of people in this area. Only a few hundred have arrived in Kindu. The ICRC will set up an antenna in Kindu to establish a logistical base closer to the conflict area and to monitor further the situation in South and western Kivu.

In Rwanda, the ICRC continues to provide water at way stations for the people returning to their communes of origin. The results of the ICRC's steadfast commitment to water and sanitation activities during the past 20 months are proving invaluable for returning refugees. The ICRC's activities are focusing on tracing services related to unaccompanied children, and on monitoring arrests. The protection and assistance programmes for 89,000 detainees continue and preparations are being made to be able to cope with a further increase in the number of detainees. The ICRC-chartered Hercules is also carrying out flights to transfer relief goods and water and sanitation equipment from Nairobi to Kigali.