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Update No. 97/01 on ICRC activities in Rwanda

28-01-1997 Operational Update

The tragic killing of three expatriate workers of the humanitarian organization Médecins du Monde and the severe wounding of a fourth in Ruhengeri on 18 January 1997 highlighted the degree to which the security situation in Rwanda has deteriorated over the past few weeks.

Since the mass return of over one million refugees from Zaire and Tanzania violence, civilian killings and subsequent police and military operations by the authorities have affected more and more communities in the different prefectures.

Owing to the threat posed by this deterioration in security to humanitarian organizations, the ICRC has reevaluated its set-up and has temporarily relocated its expatriate staff from its offices in Gisenyi, Kibuye and Ruhengeri to the head office in Kigali. The three offices remain open, however, and local employees are continuing assistance and tracing activities. All other ICRC sub-delegations and offices throughout the country are continuing their work, albeit at a reduced level because of the stricter security measures.

The Delegate General for Africa is currently in Kigali to review the objectives and means of the ICRC operation in Rwanda with the delegation. The outcome of the review and any modifications to the operation will be advised in due time.

There are currently over 93,000 detainees of ICRC concern in over 200 places of detention throughout Rwanda. The delegation is still heavily involved in tracing unaccompanied children and maintains a worldwide RC message network.

In Kamembe, on the Zairean border, the ICRC assisted over 25'000 returnees from the Bukavu area during January. The sam e people had already benefited from assistance in Zaire, via two way-stations set up 40 km west of Bukavu, near Shaminunu.