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Update No. 96/6 on ICRC activities in Zaire

18-11-1996 Operational Update

Since Friday, an estimated 400,000 of the refugees moving eastwards from camps near Goma, eastern Zaire, to Rwanda have crossed the border to the Rwandan town of Gisenyi, from where they will continue the journey to their home villages. More returning refugees are thought to be still on their way to Rwanda from Zaire. The ICRC and many other humanitarian organizations in Gisenyi, Rwanda, are working around the clock to provide assistance to the desperate masses of refugees.

 ICRC activities during the weekend  

ICRC delegates and volunteers from the Zairian Red Cross entered the camps at Mugunga and Ndosho, west of Goma, where they came across significant numbers of wounded and dead, as well as many people suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition and dehydration. The ICRC convoy made two return trips to the area, picking up 105 unaccompanied children and several dozen wounded. The wounded were transferred to hospitals in Goma and the children handed over to ICRC staff based in Gisenyi.

Hospitals in the city of Goma have been resupplied with ICRC medicines and medical material. ICRC expatriates have been given permission to stay in Goma overnight. No decision has yet been taken on whether the ICRC will be allowed to resume its activities in the hospitals in Bukavu and Uvira, but a positive response is expected in the next few days.

The ICRC has made representations to the authorities concerned to be allowed access to all people detained.

Over the weekend, delegates in Gisenyi, Rwanda, cared for and registered over 1,000 unaccompanied children, so me of whom were transported to Ruhengeri in ICRC trucks. One hundred tonnes of protein biscuits, including 19 tonnes donated to the Federation, were distributed by the ICRC to refugees at way stations jointly with the Rwandan Red Cross. Way stations all along the road to Ruhengeri are being supplied with safe drinking water by four ICRC water trucks.

The ICRC-chartered C-130 Hercules transport plane arrived in Kisangani on Friday, carrying 17 tonnes of medical materials, food and blankets. The plane has since left Kinshasa for reloading in Nairobi and is set to return to Kisangani early Tuesday morning via Kinshasa.

A large group of refugees and internally displaced people is reported to be in very poor condition in the area of Shabunda, a town between Bukavu and Kindu. An ICRC plane will attempt to land in Shabunda to assess the situation.

An ICRC team from Lubumbashi will move to Kalemie as soon as possible and a delegate will attempt to reach Bunia, northern Zaire, where fighting is reported.

On Saturday the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1080, authorizing the deployment of a multinational force which will ensure that humanitarian aid reaches victims of the conflict. The ICRC sent a memorandum to members of the Security Council and countries possibly contributing to the multinational force, reminding them of the applicability of international humanitarian law and the need to respect it.