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Great Lakes region: Still in need of protection: repatriation, refoulement and the safety of refugees and the internally displaced

, Index number: AFR 02/007/1997

In October 1996 an enormous humanitarian tragedy unfolded as eastern Zaire exploded into open warfare and massive human rights violations. Over one million refugees from Rwanda and Burundi and several hundred thousand internally displaced Zairians were caught in the crossfire. As thousands died, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled back to Rwanda and Burundi, tens of thousands to Tanzania, which then took action to force these refugees back to Rwanda, with the cooperation of the UNHCR. Although the internationally community has turned its back on the problem, the refugee crisis in Central Africa is far from over, as huge numbers of refugees and displaced people remain at risk from armed conflict and human rights abuses. This report examines the refugee situation and appeals to the governments of host states, the UNHCR and the international community to ensure that immediate action is taken to ensure the safety of refugees and internally displaced people.

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