|ICRC Activities in Zaire/Democratic Republic of Congo: 1994 - 3 February 1999 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 124 p.)|
Annual report 1994
The ethnic diversity of certain regions of Zaire remained a source of hatred and violence in 1994. The expulsion of much of the Kasaian community from Shaba in 1992 and tension between the Banyarwanda community and the indigenous population of North Kivu in 1993 had left hundreds of thousands of displaced people in need of urgent assistance. Some of them were still living in extremely precarious conditions in 1994. The Kivu region was further destabilized by the arrival of around 1.5 million Rwandan refugees in North and South Kivu in June 1994.
The political scene remained complex, even after a new government was formed in July. This exacerbated the socio-economic crisis and the resulting decline in the populations living standards. However, despite a fragile new government, a yearly inflation rate of over 6,000 per cent, a marked deterioration in public services, especially health, education and transport, soaring unemployment, months of unpaid salaries and a general lack of security, the nation somehow managed to avoid sliding into ruin.
In October new disturbances broke out in the Masisi area of North Kivu between the indigenous population on the one hand and Rwandan refugees, along with residents of Banyarwanda-Hutu origin, on the other, the Banyarwanda people of Tutsi origin having virtually all returned to Rwanda. The ICRC sub-delegation in Goma closely monitored developments and stood ready to launch a protection and assistance programme if necessary. It also pursued its training programme for volunteers of the Red Cross of Zaire to improve their emergency preparedness. The programme was part of an ongoing nationwide effort to train first-aid volunteers and create teams capable of taking rapid action in emergencies. This effort focused on East and West Kasai in 1994.
Activities for the civilian population
The ICRC continued to provide emergency food assistance in 1994 for concentrations of displaced people in Shaba (Kolwezi and Likasi), numbering over 80,000, who were waiting for trains or other transport to take them to the Kasai, their region of origin. ICRC distributions continued throughout the year in Likasi, where in December 32,800 of the affected population still remained. The last displaced Kasaians in Kolwezi left in July and were given a leaving ration. The ICRCs office in Kolwezi was closed in August.
In North Kivu the ICRC provided items such as blankets and agricultural tools to certain vulnerable groups, and carried out a programme in conjunction with the Red Cross of Zaire to protect natural springs.
The huge wave of refugees from Rwanda which started flooding into the Goma area on 14 July created an unprecedented emergency. The ICRC immediately increased its staff in Goma and in the newly opened office in Bukavu. For details of ICRC activities in this connection see under Rwanda.
Activities for detainees
Visits to places of detention were carried out around the country in 1994, with the agreement of the Zairian authorities. Delegates visited detainees falling within the ICRCs mandate and held for reasons of State security, and in Kivu visits were made to people detained in connection with the unrest in the Ruwenzori area and to Rwandan refugees detained and threatened with expulsion.
In view of the enormous difficulties that the Zairian prison service was having in providing acceptable living conditions for all its prisoners, the ICRC decided to assist all inmates in some places of detention visited. The assistance was provided through local non-governmental organizations and religious groups already working in this domain and took the form of nutritional supplements, improvements to sanitation and material aid. Over 2,000 inmates in 16 different places of detention were covered by the programme in the Kinshasa, Bas-Zaire, East Kasai, Shaba, North Kivu and South Kivu regions. A nutritional assessment was carried out in each establishment prior to distributions and inmates were examined by ICRC medical staff. In January a water and sanitation project was completed in Goma prison.
The tracing activities of the regional delegation in Kinshasa included the registration of unaccompanied minors in Kivu (see Rwanda) and providing Red Cross message services for Rwandan refugees in Kivu, Angolan refugees in Shaba and Sudanese refugees in Haut-Zaire.
Having obtained authorization at the start of the year from the general headquarters of the armed forces of Zaire, the ICRC stepped up its dissemination activities in the Shaba region and in North and South Kivu. In April and June a series of dissemination sessions was organized, reaching 500 officers of the army and the security forces. From 9 to 12 August the ICRC held its first seminar on international humanitarian law for the security forces in Kinshasa. The 30 senior officers who attended were responsible for training and operations within the Garde civile, the special Presidential Division, the Gendarmerie nationale and the Service de lAction de Renseignements militaires.
To facilitate the tracing work of the ICRCs delegates in North and South Kivu, a campaign to spread awareness of ICRC activities and the basic principles of international humanitarian law was begun in November, aimed at those in charge of the camps for Rwandan refugees, elements of the Rwandan armed forces present in Zaire and members of the Zairian armed forces.
From July on the ICRC provided the Red Cross of Zaire with support for its dissemination activities, training 20 dissemination officers to inform the general public in Kinshasa of the role of Red Cross first-aid teams. Similar work carried out by the National Society in Goma in December was backed up by weekly radio programmes and the distribution of a locally made comic book portraying the work of the teams in emergency situations.