|ICRC Activities in Rwanda: 1993 - 6 April 2000 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 230 p.)|
26 December 1996
ICRC activities in eastern Zaire continue to focus on the large numbers of refugees concentrated in Shabunda, mid-way between Kindu and Bukavu. As of 21 December, the ICRC had counted 55,875 refugees in Shabunda, with a further 50,000 said to be en route. To add to the already momentous tasks facing the ICRC in Shabunda, there are indications that tensions are emerging between Rwandan and Burundian refugees, and discussions are being held with a view to establishing separate sites for the two communities. The ICRC in collaboration with the Zairian RC is also continuing to distribute relief assistance to Zairian displaced civilians in Shabunda, Kalima and Kindu.
To facilitate access to the refugees the ICRC has started building an 80-metre long wooden roadway across the existing bridge. The ICRC team is busy registering 107 unaccompanied children, as well as the group of 233 who finally reached Shabunda on Thursday. Only 21 of the 233 belonged to the group of orphans previously taken care of by the Belgian Red Cross in Bukavu. Delegates are seeking ways to repatriate the children to Rwanda as soon as they have recovered from their long walk. An ICRC nurse and a relief coordinator arrived yesterday to boost the number of ICRC staff in the area.
Two ICRC delegates finally landed in Lubutu on Wednesday to assess the situation on the ground. According to local sources there are as many as 163,000 refugees in and around Tingi-Tingi. Since very little humanitarian assistance is in place at present, needs are tremendous: a brief survey of refugee sites showed that there are many sick and wounded.
In North Kivu, an ICRC team was able to reach Rutshuru and Tongo, situated north of Goma, and Karuba, west of Goma, to assess the situation of the civilian population and conditions in health facilities.
The ICRC team based in Bukavu plans to carry out a mission to Mwenga to evaluate the situation there.
Since last Saturday a team of ICRC water and sanitation engineers has been working in Kibungo, Rwanda, installing four water treatment units, water tanks and water bladders to provide safe drinking water for refugees returning from camps in Tanzania and at transit centres. These activities will be kept up for as long as refugees are walking along the main road to Rwanda. Work to restore family links amongst unaccompanied children is continuing amongst the large influx of returnees from Tanzania. By 21 December, 623 had been registered, 173 were immediately reunited with their families, 494 were transferred to Nyakarambi to be reunited at a later date. In all, 1,534 enquiries have been received from parents looking for their lost children.
The ICRC is currently using four aircraft for its operation in Zaire: one Hercules C-130, one Beechcraft, one DC-3 and one Twin Otter. A second DC-3 is scheduled to arrive, increasing the capacity to transfer relief goods from Kindu to Shabunda.
The 14 wagons of food and other relief supplies sent two weeks ago by train from Lubumbashi have arrived in Kindu. This means that cargo flights from Nairobi can be reduced during the next few days.