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Update No. 96/12 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis

05-12-1996 Operational Update

Owing to the deteriorating security situation ICRC delegates have evacuated both Kindu and Kisangani, eastern Zaire. In Kisangani, fighting broke out after members of the Zairian armed forces originating in Kivu started looting the town and clashed with local Zairian troops. In Kindu, the ICRC's decision to pull out was triggered by the presence of undisciplined soldiers in town and the general hostility towards foreigners and humanitarian organizations, held responsible for events in eastern Zaire.

The ICRC has assisted eight hundred Zairian displaced in Kindu and Kalima and has located several thousand more in various villages east of Kindu. Many of these displaced Zairians were in an extremely poor state. Unfortunately the delegates had no choice but to interrupt their programme launched in favour of displaced people in the region.  The ICRC continues to be deeply concerned about the plight of large groups of displaced and refugees who have been without protection and assistance for weeks.

In areas of Zaire not affected by the conflict the ICRC will continue its activities for detainees in prisons by providing food and other assistance.

On Tuesday, 3 December, the ICRC, together with other humanitarian organizations, was able to enter Uvira, south Kivu, where it discovered German Red Cross hospital equipment, sent by the ICRC in October and previously thought to have been looted. Only a generator was missing. The ICRC is working to reequip and restaff Uvira hospital, as all materials have been looted and the local staff have disappeared.  It will also reopen several dispensaries around Uvira.

Basic drugs continue to be provide d to the three Goma hospitals, which this week have seen several hundred cases of diarrhoea and suspected cholera.Fifty-eight war-wounded were also admitted. Assistance is being given to three hospitals in Goma, and, since 4 December, one each in Rutshuru, Kirotshe and Masisi.

The ICRC continues to provide water, biscuits and first aid, to groups of refugees emerging from the forest in the vicinity of Mugunga.  In the past few days, hundreds of these people have been crossing into Rwanda every day.

The ICRC's water and sanitation team has installed two powerful generators in Goma to ensure the electricity supply for the pumping stations which are capable of providing two-thirds of Goma, including the general hospital, with drinking water during daylight hours.

In Bukavu, ICRC water engineers are setting up a medium-term support programme with the local water company. Under this programme the ICRC will supply fuel for the pumping station, chemicals for the water-treatment plant and technical advice and support.

In Rwanda, the total number of detainees visited has risen to 88,059, of whom 58,174 are held in prisons and 29,885 in temporary detention centres. Visits were made to 210 places of detention. In all, 170 tonnes of food and other assistance, covering more than 50 percent of needs, have been delivered to places of detention in Rwanda this week.

The ICRC's tracing activities in Rwanda continue, with 4,730 unaccompanied children registered so far. Only 385 of these children were from the 1994 caseload.  The total number of family reunifications carried out by the ICRC and other organizations is rising daily and currently stands at around 2,000.The success rate for reunifications is roughly 90 percent when children are taken to their commune of origin. As part of its massive tracing programme the ICRC has also been supplying food and other assistance to 11 transit cent res for unaccompanied children.