Rwandan Refugees in Tanzania

12/20/1996 12:00:00 AM


Rwandan refugees in Tanzania, asked to go home,
are fleeing deeper into Tanzania.  Some are being
stopped by Tanzanian soldiers and sent back toward
Rwanda.  Aid workers say others are slipping away
toward Uganda, Kenya, Malawi or even Mozambique,
saying that anywhere is better than Rwanda.  "We
would rather die in Tanzania than go back and be killed
in Rwanda" say those willing to speak out.  Tanzania's
government recently said the Rwandans must go
home by year's end.   Action by Churches Together
(ACT) has trucks ready and food stockpiled along the
route home, with additional transport and supplies
positioned inside Rwanda.  ACT is a worldwide
network of churches, including the Lutheran World
Federation, meeting human need through coordinated
emergency response.  Recently 320,000 refugees
chose -- or were persuaded by militants among them
-- to go the other way, leaving camps that have been
their home for more than two years.  Lutheran World
Relief (LWR) aid workers estimate that half the
refugees would go home if they could.  The other half,
apparently dominant, fears reprisal for the Rwandan
genocide of 1994.  In November 600,000 Rwandans
from Zaire were repatriated.  They are resettling with
minimal reports of trouble so far.  ACT and the
Lutheran World Federation are providing rations and
building materials to these returnees.  An unknown
number, including former militia and soldiers, headed
deeper into Zaire instead.  ACT has delivered 12 tons
of food and medicine to some of these refugees near
Lubuto, Zaire.  Roman Catholic Archbishop Pasinya of
Kisangani, a Zairean city on the edge of the conflict
zone, has issued a worldwide appeal.  His diocese "is
in danger of a famine of unimaginable magnitude," he
said.  World leaders have failed to assure safe
corridors for aid, he said. The archbishop asked for
urgent distribution of food and medicine to
"panic-stricken populations" of refugees, displaced
and residents in eastern Zaire.

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News
Service, (312) 380-2958 or AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG;
Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir., (312) 380-2955 or
FRANKI@ELCA.ORG; Melissa Ramirez, Assist. Dir.,
(312) 380-2956 or MRAMIREZ@ELCA.ORG


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