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Cablegate: Monuc Concerned About Repatriation of Banyamulenge

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001731

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF KPKO PGOV PHUM PINS PREL CG PRM
SUBJECT: MONUC CONCERNED ABOUT REPATRIATION OF BANYAMULENGE

REFUGEES FROM BURUNDI

1. (U) Summary. MONUC poloffs briefed members of the
diplomatic community September 14 on efforts to repatriate
Banyamulenge refugees to South Kivu. MONUC wants to
coordinate humanitarian and security assistance with GDRC
officials and with other UN agencies to provide protection to
returning refugees. MONUC is concerned about possible attacks
and manipulation of the refugee issue. MONUC also referred to
the UN's report on the Gatumba massacre which documents the
lack of a response by Burundian authorities during the
incident. The report also recognizes the role that FNL
militias played in the attack without ruling out
participation by other regional actors. End Summary.

MONUC: Important to Assist and Protect Returning Refugees
--------------------------------------------- ------------

2. (SBU) MONUC political affairs officials briefed members of
the diplomatic community September 14 about repatriation of
Congolese Banyamulenge refugees from Burundi to South Kivu.
So far, 255 families comprising 1413 individuals of
Banyamulenge background have registered for voluntary
repatriation. MONUC is coordinating repatriation efforts with
GDRC and UN agencies (such as the High Commissioner for
Refugees) and expressed concern about the potential political
consequences of another attack on returning refugees.

3. (SBU) In MONUC's view, the various "composantes" within
the GDRC are willing to work together to assist returning
Congolese refugees from Burundi. MONUC remains concerned,
however, that South Kivu's civil society leaders could incite
ethnic hatred and manipulate the refugee issue. These same
individuals have claimed that the Gatumba massacre was
actually a confrontation of armed Banyamulenge refugees with
another armed group and not a massacre. They have also argued
for a limit on the number of Banyamulenge refugees who can
return and have called attention to the danger posed by
possible "infiltrators." MONUC briefers encouraged the
diplomatic community to press the GDRC for a stronger
response to those inciting ethnic hatred, including possible
prosecutions.

UN Report on Gatumba: No Group Ruled Out
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Albrecht Conze, Deputy Director of MONUC's Political
Affairs Division, gave a general overview of the UN report on
the August 13 Gatumba massacre in Burundi. He said that the
attackers were well prepared and knew where to find the
Banyamulenge refugees. He noted that the lack of a response
from Burundian authorities was well documented; in
particular, the UN found no evidence that a nearby military
camp had come under heavy attack by the perpetrators of the
massacre as previously claimed.

5. (SBU) According to Conze, the UN report concludes that the
Burundian Hutu "Forces of National Liberation" (FNL)
participated in the attack, but unlike Human Rights Watch,
which only investigated inside Burundi, the UN does not view
the FNL as the main or sole group responsible for the attack.
Other actors, including Congolese armed groups, are not ruled
out as participants.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) MONUC has reason to be concerned about the safety of
returning Congolese Banyamulenge refugees. The situation in
South Kivu remains volatile and various groups will try to
manipulate the refugee issue for their own ends. It is
precisely this concern over local conditions that has led
UNHCR officials in Bujumbura and Kinshasa to oppose
repatriation efforts at this time. However, if the refugees
want to return on their own, it would be important for UNHCR
to provide assistance as part of a joint effort involving
MONUC and DRC officials. Another attack on these refugees
could lead to renewed fighting in the east and imperil the
transition in the DRC. End Comment.
MEECE

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