SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES RWANDA'S RECONCILIATION PROGRESS
The Security Council this afternoon responding to the Secretary-General's recent report on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) welcomed progress made in the past two months by the Government of Rwanda in the national reconciliation process, including the integration of more than 2,000 former Rwandese Government Forces (RGF) troops into the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA).
In a statement read out on its behalf by its President, Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria), the Council called on the Government of Rwanda to intensify its contacts with all sectors of Rwandese society, excepting those directly responsible for the genocide. It reiterated its concern at reports of continuing cross-border infiltration from neighbouring countries into Rwanda, as well as its concern at the danger that would be posed for peace and stability in the Great Lakes region by uncontrolled arms flows.
In his report to the Council (S/1995/848), the Secretary-General focuses on the problems of repatriation and security. The Council this afternoon condemned all acts of violence in Rwanda. Further, it welcomed the fact that Rwanda's Government had initiated an investigation into the recent killing of civilians at Kanama, and expected that prosecution of those responsible would follow. In that incident, cited by the Secretary-General as one of the major events of the period that could influence the Government's policy of national reconciliation, 110 villagers were killed, but the Government had quickly visited the village, acknowledge RPA excesses and promised punishment of the guilty.
The Council again called on all States to act in accordance with the conclusions of the January 1995 Nairobi summit meeting of the leaders in the subregion, as well as the recommendations by the February 1995 Bujumbura Regional Conference on Assistance to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in the Great Lakes region.
The Council, reaffirming that reconciliation and stability in the region could not be attained without the safe return to their country of all Rwandese refugees who wished to return, welcomed the joint efforts of Rwanda, neighbouring countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to speed up their voluntary return. In his report to the Council, the Secretary-General notes that the "efficient manner" in which Rwanda's Government handled the forcible repatriation by Zaire of some 13,000 Rwandese refugees in August was testimony to the progress made in stabilizing the country. The report also notes that measures had been agreed upon for repatriation of some 600,000 Rwandese refugees in Tanzania. One million refugees remain in Zaire and 155,000 in Burundi.
Reaffirming the important role played in Rwanda and the subregion by UNAMIR, the Council underlined that the Mission could effectively implement its current mandate only if it had an adequate force level and sufficient means. It stated its readiness to study any further recommendations the Secretary-General might make on the issue of force reductions in relation to the fulfilment of UNAMIR's mandate.
Welcoming the appointment of the members of the Rwandese Supreme Court, the Council stressed that the International Tribunal for Rwanda should begin its proceedings as soon as possible. It called on Member States to comply with their obligations with regard to cooperation with the Tribunal. It once more urged all States to arrest and detain persons suspected of genocide and other serious violations of international law in accordance with Council resolution 978 (1995). It underlined as a matter of priority the need for the Tribunal to be fully financed.
The Council also reaffirmed its concern at the appalling situation in the Rwandese prisons. It welcomed measures initiated by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, in coordination with the international community and the Government of Rwanda, to alleviate prison conditions, called on the international community to continue assistance and encouraged the Rwandese Government to continue its efforts to that end. It underlined the importance of parallel action by the Government to restore the Rwandese judicial system, and requested the international community to assist the Government in that urgent task.
The meeting, which was called to order at 1:20 p.m., adjourned at 1:25 p.m.
Text of Statement
The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1995/53, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the Secretary-General's report on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) of 7 October 1995 (S/1995/848).
"The Security Council welcomes progress made by the Government of Rwanda in the reconciliation process, including the integration of more than 2,000 members of former Rwandese Government Forces (RGF) troops into the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA). The Council calls on the Government of Rwanda to intensify its contacts with all sectors of Rwandan society, except with those directly responsible for the genocide. The Council reiterates its concern at reports about continuing cross-border infiltrations form neighbouring countries which have a destabilizing effect within Rwanda. The Council also reiterates its concern at the danger for peace and stability in the Great Lakes region which would be caused by uncontrolled arms flows and in this context reaffirms the relevant provisions of its resolution 1013 (1995). The Council condemns all acts of violence in Rwanda. The Council welcomes the fact that the Government of Rwanda has voluntarily and without delay initiated an investigation into the killing of civilians at Kanama and expects that prosecution of those responsible will follow.
"The Security Council calls again upon all States to act in accordance with the conclusions of the summit meeting of the leaders in the subregion in Nairobi in January 1995 and the recommendations by the Regional Conference on Assistance to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in the Great Lakes region, held in Bujumbura in February 1995. The Council welcomes recent efforts to improve relations among the States in the region, which should help pave the way for the proposed Regional Conference on Peace, Security and Development. In this regard, the Council supports the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes region for the preparation and convening of such a conference. It requests the Secretary-General to submit his report on the results of the first round of consultations of the Special Envoy in the region as soon as possible.
"The Security Council reaffirms the important role UNAMIR has played in Rwanda and the subregion. In this respect, the Council underlines its commitment to UNAMIR which, inter alia, assists the Government of Rwanda in facilitating the voluntary return and resettlement of refugees and has made available to the Rwandan authorities its engineering and logistics capacity. The Council underlines that UNAMIR can effectively implement its current mandate only if it has an adequate force level and sufficient means. The Council stands ready to study carefully any further recommendations that the Secretary-General might make on the issue of force reductions in relation to the fulfilment of the mandate of UNAMIR.
"The Security Council reaffirms its view that genuine reconciliation as well as long-lasting stability in the region as a whole cannot be attained without the safe, voluntary and organized return to their country of all Rwandan refugees. In this respect, the Council welcomes the joint efforts of Rwanda, neighbouring countries and UNHCR to speed up the voluntary return of refugees through, inter alia, the work of the Tripartite Commissions. The Council underlines that, in order to foster the process of national reconciliation, an effective and credible national judiciary has to be established. In this respect, it welcomes the appointment of the members of the Rwandan Supreme Court. The Council further underlines that the International Tribunal for Rwanda should begin its proceedings as soon as possible. The Council calls on Member States to comply with their obligations with regard to cooperation with the Tribunal in accordance with resolution 955 (1994). It urges once more all States to arrest and detain persons suspected of genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in accordance with resolution 978 (1995). The Council underlines the necessity for the Tribunal to the fully financed, as a matter of priority, and for continued access to the Voluntary Trust Fund established for the Tribunal. The Council continues to support the work of human rights monitors in Rwanda in cooperation with the Rwandan Government.
"The Security Council reaffirms its concern at the appalling situation in the Rwandan prisons. In this respect, it welcomes measures initiated by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, in coordination with the international community and the Government of Rwanda, to alleviate the intolerable conditions in Rwandan prisons. It calls on the international community to continue its assistance in this regard and encourages the Rwandan Government to continue its efforts to improve the situation in the prisons. The Council underlines the importance of parallel action by the Rwandan Government to restore the Rwandan judicial system and requests the international community to assist the Rwandan Government in this urgent task.
"The Security Council underlines that sound economic foundations are also vital for achieving lasting stability in Rwanda. In this respect, it welcomes the increased commitments and funds pledged for the Government's Programme of National Reconciliation and Socio-Economic Rehabilitation and Recovery following the mid-term review of the Geneva Round-Table Conference, and calls on the international community to continue to support Rwanda's rehabilitation process.
"The Security council will remain seized of the matter."
Secretary-General's Report on UNAMIR
The Secretary-General's progress report (S/1995/848) states that problems relating to repatriation and security had again highlighted the remaining challenges facing Rwanda. It warns that the benefits of continued Rwandese cooperation with the United Nations and the international community would be limited as long as the Rwandese remained divided by fear and mistrust and the spectre of renewed conflict hung over the country.
In a review of recent political developments in Rwanda, the report states that the Government's declared policy of promoting broad-based participation and national reconciliation had been influenced by two major events. The first was the departure of Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, who left office on 28 August together with four other Cabinet Ministers. The second was the killing of 110 villagers at Kanama on 11 and 12 September. However, the Government had moved quickly to contain and counteract those events. First, it had appointed a new Prime Minister and replaced the departing Cabinet Ministers. Second, Vice- President and Defence Minister Major-General Paul Kagame had visited Kanama the day after the killings, had acknowledged Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) excesses, and had promised punishment of the guilty.
The report notes the "efficient manner" in which the Government of Rwanda had handled the forcible repatriation by Zaire of some 13,000 Rwandese refugees in August -- testimony, says the report, to progress made in stabilizing the country. It notes the formal integration into the RPA of 1,200 former members of the Rwandese Government Forces (RGF), bringing the total of former RGF troops now serving with the RPA to 2,000. It further notes the continuation of Government normalization efforts in the countryside, especially in the communes, where most Rwandese lived and from where most refugees had fled.
Following the mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Rwanda and the Great Lakes region from 31 August to 7 September, undertaken at the Secretary-General's request, officials in Rwanda had reaffirmed their desire to see refugees return and had promised to do everything in their power to facilitate voluntary return in conditions of safety and dignity. At a meeting of the Tripartite Commission involving Tanzania, Rwanda and Zaire, held from 18 to 21 September at Arusha, practical measures had been agreed on for starting large-scale repatriation of the more than 600,000 Rwandese refugees in Tanzania.
At a second meeting of the Tripartite Commission, involving Zaire, Rwanda and UNHCR, a joint communique had reaffirmed commitments to create conditions for repatriation to Rwanda in a safe and organized manner. The Government of Rwanda had agreed to strengthen reception facilities, reduce border controls and provide security and protection to returnees in collaboration with UNHCR and other human rights organizations. The Government of Zaire had agreed to reduce all forms of intimidation in the camps within its borders. Those decisions would be implemented through technical meetings to be held at Gisenyi later this month, and the process would be evaluated by the Tripartite Commission at Geneva or in Zaire.
In response to the anticipated increase in the rate of return of refugees to Rwanda, the report states, UNHCR was augmenting its facilities at official entry points to ensure the proper reception of all returnees. From 5 to 25 September, more than 4,000 refugees were repatriated under UNHCR auspices from the camps in northern Burundi, for a total of some 18,000 refugees assisted by UNHCR since June of this year. The UNHCR further estimated that an equal number had repatriated spontaneously. The number of Rwandese refugees remaining in Burundi was 155,000.
From Zaire, currently host to 1 million Rwandese refugees, 3,500 new caseload and 5,934 old caseload refugees had been repatriated under UNHCR auspices during September. During the same period, 147 refugees returned to Rwanda from Bukavu. As a result of recent developments, however, and in view of repatriation deadlines imposed by the Government of Zaire -- 31 December 1995 -- it was hoped that the pace of repatriation would substantially quicken. However, following her recent visit to the region, the High Commissioner for Refugees believed that a realistic target for voluntary repatriation was between 500,000 and 600,000 people by the end of the year.
However, the report warns that, crucial as those developments were, national reconciliation depended not only on repatriation and safe reintegration of refugees, but on the establishment of an effective and credible national judiciary to ensure justice and equal treatment for all Rwandese nationals. Currently the judiciary remained largely inoperative in a "dangerous situation", with upward of 500 people adding weekly to the more than 50,000 detained in inhuman conditions in Rwanda's overcrowded jails.
The report notes that the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation for Rwanda had continued its monitoring activities, technical assistance to the judicial system, improvement of prison conditions and educational seminars. A database had been created with other United Nations agencies to provide accurate information on refugee movements.
On the legal and institutional arrangements for the International Tribunal for Rwanda, the report noted the recent three-day visit to Rwanda by the President, Prosecutor and Registrar of the Tribunal. It also noted the Headquarters Agreement relating to the seat of the Tribunal, signed on 31 August between the United Nations and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The Secretary-General's report states that the gradual reduction of UNAMIR force levels, authorized by Council resolution 997 (1995), was proceeding. By that resolution of 9 June, the Council extended UNAMIR's mandate until 8 December 1995. It authorized a force reduction to 2,330 troops by 9 September and to 1,900 troops by 9 October, with military observers and civilian police personnel maintained at current levels. As of 30 September, the force level stood at 1,836. A total of 288 military observers out of an authorized level of 320 were also deployed in the country.
The UNAMIR continued to assist the Government of Rwanda in facilitating the voluntary and safe return and resettlement of refugees and in promoting a climate of confidence and trust, the report states. Meanwhile, the civilian police component of UNAMIR had continued to focus on training of the Rwandese National Police Force. Training of a third group of 515 gendarmes was in progress and was scheduled to end early in December, giving Rwanda about 900 of the estimated 6,000 trained gendarmes it needed.
With more than 52,000 people currently incarcerated, and with arrests continuing to take place -- usually on suspicion of complicity in the 1994 genocide -- the report notes that conditions in the prisons constituted a major humanitarian crisis. In August, the Secretary-General requested the Under- Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in coordination with the Government of Rwanda and the international community, to initiate urgent measures to alleviate that "appalling situation".
In conclusion, says the report, UNAMIR had continued to discharge the tasks entrusted to it under Council resolution 997 (1995). Its efforts had made an important contribution to Rwanda's rehabilitation programme. Although much remained to be done, visible progress towards normalization and stability had been achieved. However, sustainable recovery was possible only in conditions of genuine peace and stability. Creating and sustaining such conditions was a matter primarily for the Rwandese themselves. The recent crises created by the expulsion of Rwandese refugees from Zaire and the killings of civilians near Gisenyi had underlined the fragility of the rehabilitation process.
Perhaps the most immediate cause and consequence of the instability and political divisions confronting Rwanda and the Great Lakes region, says the report, was the refugee problem. To address its underlying political causes would require genuine national reconciliation between the various segments of Rwandese society as envisaged under the Arusha Peace Agreement.
Noting that the issues confronting the international community went beyond Rwanda's borders, the Secretary-General's report states that long-term peace in Rwanda would remain elusive as long as large concentrations of Rwandese were encamped in neighbouring countries. The Secretary-General expresses the hope that the Commission of Inquiry recently appointed by the Security Council to investigate reports of military training and arms transfers to former Rwandese government forces would help defuse tensions and promote mutual confidence along Rwanda's borders. The Secretary-General welcomes recent efforts to improve relations among the States in the region, which should help pave the way for the proposed Regional Conference on Peace, Security and Development. In that regard, he would soon be reporting to the Council on the results of his Special Envoy's first round of consultations in the Great Lakes region.
The report states that, while Rwanda had made visible progress in its efforts to overcome the problems created by the tragic events of 1994, the country still had a long road to travel in its search for reconciliation and recovery. The UNAMIR's mandate was set to expire on 8 December 1995, and it was now time for the Government of Rwanda and the international community to give serious consideration to the future role of the United Nations in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, in view of the acute financial crisis currently faced by the Organization, the Secretary-General had instructed all the heads of peace-keeping operations to explore ways to effect immediate savings, including possible troop reductions. In the case of UNAMIR, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Shaharyar Khan, was currently studying, in consultation with the Government, the possibility of a "very substantial" troop reduction. The Secretary-General would in due course be reporting on the matter to the Security Council.
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