November 20, 1996

New refugee movement into Rwanda reported

(CNN) -- Tens of thousands of Hutu refugees were reportedly heading through eastern Zaire into Rwanda on Wednesday, the possible vanguard of a second mass exodus.

The U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP) reported "strong indications" that at least 100,000 Hutu refugees still in eastern Zaire were on the move Wednesday.

"There are strong indications that a large movement of people from the Bukavu area are heading north towards Goma. We believe there could be more than 100,000," WFP spokeswoman Michele Quintaglie said in Nairobi.

Since Friday, an estimated half-million Rwandan refugees have crossed back into their homeland, leading to expectations that a large multinational intervention force will be scaled back or eliminated.

But hundreds of thousands of refugees are still hiding out in the hills of eastern Zaire, aid officials say. "We are doing our best to locate them," said Peter Kessler, spokesman with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

CNN's Catherine Bond, reporting from rebel-held eastern Zaire, said she had encountered groups of Hutu refugees, some of them severely malnourished, who had come under fire from Tutsi fighters.


Almost all the half-million Rwandan Hutu refugees from Zairian camps at the northern end of Lake Kivu have crossed into Rwanda, leaving the border crossing at Gisenyi all but empty Wednesday.

The refugees fled back into Rwanda to escape fighting between Zairian rebels, and soldiers from Rwanda's Hutu- dominated ex-army and militias who organized the 1994 genocide of minority Tutsis in Rwanda.

Kessler said the world, in focusing on last weekend's mass exodus, had virtually forgotten about an estimated 500,000 in the area south of Lake Kivu.

U.N. aid workers were waiting for Zairian rebels to let aid assessement teams enter the South Kivu regin to help locate and direct the refugees to Rwanda.

Nations reconsider aid force

Military officials from 14 nations including France, the United States, Britain and Canada were due to meet Thursday or Friday in Stuttgart, Germany, to to reassess the need for a multinational relief force.

Several countries that wanted to take part in the military mission were having second thoughts, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told reporters. The United States has already reversed a decision to commit ground troops and now says it will only lend logistical support.

A meeting of donor countries chaired [refugees] by Canada will be held in Geneva on Saturday to examine what sort of aid each country or international agency can bring.

Returning refugees reportedly arrested

The Rwandan government has tried to offer assurances that Hutus can return without fear of retribution for their part in the massacre of some half-million Tutsis in 1994.

But members of the Rally for the Return of Refugees and Democracy in Rwanda -- an exile group opposed to the present Tutsi-led government -- reported some returning refugees were arrested as soon as they arrived home "under the usual blank charge of genocide that hangs on every Hutu's head."

It was not immediately possible to confirm the arrests.

Also Wednesday:

* Aid agencies said Rwandan authorities are thwarting efforts to distribute food to weary refugees still straggling home. But the Rwandan government said it wanted the refugees back in their communities as soon as possible and not delayed along the road.

* Rwandan Vice President Paul Kagame reiterated his country's opposition to an international force in Central Africa, saying the world should instead concentrate on the resettlement and rebuilding of Rwanda.

* Zairian rebels said they they would take their military campaign all the way to the capital, Kinshasa, now that Rwandan refugees were no longer impeding them.

* The Zairian armed forces chief has been suspended from his post, state-run television said. Gen. Eluki Monga Aundu has criticized the government for denying him the firepower he needs to fight Tutsi rebels.

* Pope John Paul II said a multinational force for eastern Zaire should go ahead even though large numbers of Rwandan refugees had returned home.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Related stories:

* Zaire humanitarian mission to go on - November 19, 1995

* Exodus from Zaire slows, further sparking debate over relief mission - November 18, 1996

* Rwandan refugee flow heavy, but slowing - November 17, 1996

* Refugee tide into Rwanda overwhelms aid workers - November 17, 1996

* Exodus prompts U.S. to rethink aid mission - November 16, 1996

* Image Gallery - Zaire: the long trek home - November 16, 1996

* 'An unstoppable wall of people' - November 16, 1996

* Return of refugees encourages attendees of food conference - November 15, 1996

Related sites:

* The Care Organization * American Red Cross: Crisis in Eastern Zaire * Zaire Watch * U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees * Rwanda Page * City.Net:Zaire