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Update No. 96/10 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis

28-11-1996 Operational Update

Vast numbers of Zairian displaced, Zairians affected by the conflict, Rwandan refugees and Burundian refugees remain without protection and assistance in eastern Zaire, and there are increasing indications that these groups are in very serious need of assistance. The fact that humanitarian organizations have still not been given access to the victims of the conflict is a clear violation of international humanitarian law.  Immediate access for humanitarian organizations to provide protection and assistance is crucial if the victims of this conflict are to survive.

In Goma, new groups of refugees, many of whom are in poor condition, are arriving from the Masisi and are moving in the direction of Sake. Some 35,000 refugees were seen by  ICRC delegates at Minova, on the western side of Lake Kivu. The ICRC is providing medical way stations along the Minova-Sake-Goma route, and continues its health activities in Mugunga and Goma town. In the last few days, several thousands of refugees, including many wounded, returned to Mugunga and received medical treatment from the ICRC before continuing on the road to Rwanda.

In Bukavu and its immediate surroundings ICRC delegates continued to assess the population's needs and plan a medical assistance programme.  Access to Uvira is still under discussion.

The ICRC-chartered Hercules cargo plane arrived in Kisangani from Nairobi on 27 November and has continued on to Kindu with ICRC staff, two vehicles and food assistance.

The ICRC delegate in Lubumbashi will leave for Kalemie on Friday, 29 November, to arrange for the setting up of an ICRC office in Kalemie.

In Kigal i, the ICRC is providing assistance for returnees, concentrating on water and sanitation activities. High-protein biscuits are provided as necessary in transit centres for returnees waiting to be registered. Contingency plans covering further food and non-food assistance and water and sanitation are also underway in order to be prepared in the event of a new massive influx of returnees.

ICRC delegates continue to register unaccompanied children in eastern Zaire and Rwanda and to set up a tracing network to facilitate rapid family reunifications. In Byumba, Gitarama and Gisenyi the institution continues transfering unaccompanied children to orphanages or transit centres where they receive food and medical attention while efforts are being made to search for their families. In the past week some 4,000 unaccompanied children have been registered by ICRC teams and of these, some 1,000 reunited with their families in their communes of origin. The ICRC also supplied assistance materials in Kibuye in preparation for the arrival of unaccompanied children from Ruhengeri.

The hospital in Gisenyi was supplied with two ICRC anaesthetic kits.

As regards water and sanitation, two ICRC engineers are currently preparing a contingency plan for the prefecture of Cyangugu and South Kivu, in eastern Zaire. A stock of water and sanitation material has already been sent to Kamembe to be prepared if the need for rapid intervention arises.