DRC: Murder of Hutu women and children around Mbandaka
Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
March 1, 1999
A 23 September 1997 New York Times article states that following Laurent Désiré Kabila's ascension to power in May 1997, there were "persistent" reports that Kabila-led Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo (AFDL) have been responsible for the massacre of 2,000 refugees in the cities of Wendji and Mbandaka in western Zaire. The killings reportedly took place four days before Kabila gained full control of the country.
The report also states that the United Nations team sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to investigate war crimes had been, as of mid-September 1997, denied access to the Mbandaka area by the DRC authorities and fears were that they had proceeded to clear the massacre sites and to round up potential witnesses.
An 8 August 1997 article in La Libre Belgique quotes one eyewitness of the Mbandaka massacre, who had been interviewed by UNICEF workers, as saying:
Wherever the refugees went they were attacked. Even in Mbandaka. We entered the on 13 May at 11:00. We found them [Kabila's troops - ed. note] waiting for us. They killed. The refugees who tried to get into the boat to flee to Congo were caught unawares by the troops who threw them one by one into the river.
An 11 July 1997 AFP report cites the report issued that day by a United Nations mission led by Chilean human rights lawyer Umberto Garreton which states that women, children and unarmed men, all refugees, were murdered in Mbandaka on 13 May 1997 and their bodies were thrown into the Congo river. Humanitarian organizations and peasants recovered 140 bodies and buried them in communal graves.
A 12 June 1997 International Herald Tribune report states that AFDL soldiers stated during interviews with reporters that the killings of unarmed refugees in Mbandaka were ordered by two brigade colonels identified as Rwandan.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Agence France Presse (AFP). 11 July 1997. "Congo Rivals Agree to Sign New Ceasefire."(NEXIS)
International Herald Tribune [Neuilly-sur-Seine, France]. 12 June 1997. "Evidence Mounts of Mass Killings by Kabila's Forces in Congo." (NEXIS)
La Libre Belgique [Brussels, in French]. 8 August 1997. Gerald Papy. "Congo-Kinshasa: Refugee Children Testify of Atrocities Committed by Troops." (FBIS-AFR-97-220 8 Aug. 1997/WNC)
The New York Times. 11 July 1997. "Congo Rivals Agree to Sign New Ceasefire." (NEXIS)
This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.
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