United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

11 November 1996



GENERAL ASSEMBLY                                            SECURITY COUNCIL
Fifty-first session                                         Fifty-first year
Agenda item 42

                 Letter dated 8 November 1996 from the Permanent
                 Representative of Ireland to the United Nations
                      addressed to the Secretary-General

     I have the honour to bring to your attention the enclosed
statement which was issued on 7 November 1996 following the special
meeting of European Union Development and Humanitarian Aid Ministers
on the situation in the Great Lakes region.

     I should be grateful if you could have the text of the present
letter and its annex circulated as an official document of the General
Assembly and of the Security Council.

                                              (Signed)  John H. F. CAMPBELL   
                                                      Permanent Representative


                                               [Original:  English and French]

             Press statement issued following the special meeting
             of European Union Development and Humanitarian Aid  
                     Ministers, Brussels, 7 November 1996

     A special meeting of European Union Development and Humanitarian
Aid Ministers was held at Brussels on 7 November 1996 to examine
recent developments in the Great Lakes region and to discuss the
humanitarian situation of refugees and displaced people in
eastern Zaire, and ways and means to bring about an easing of
the humanitarian crisis and an enhancement of the prospects for
a sustainable solution.  The meeting was chaired by the Minister of
State, Joan Burton T.D., of Ireland, and was attended by development
and humanitarian Ministers or representatives from all European Union
member States.  The Commission was represented by Mrs. Emma Bonino and
Prof. J. Pinheiro.

     Commissioner Pinheiro made a short general statement on the
situation facing the Great Lakes region and Commissioner Bonino
briefed the Ministers on the humanitarian response of the Commission
to the crisis to date and presented a plan of action, which will be
examined immediately and in more detail in the competent committee on
humanitarian aid.  Commissioner Bonino emphasized the urgency of
immediate intervention to alleviate the suffering of refugees and
displaced people and presented ideas concerning future action.  The
Special Envoy of the European Union to the Great Lakes region,
Mr. Ajello, briefed the meeting on the current complex situation in
the region.  Mr. Akashi, Under-Secretary-General, Department of
Humanitarian Affairs, Mrs. Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, Mrs. Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF), Mr. Graisse, Assistant Executive Director of
the World Food Programme, and Mr. De Courtin, Director of Operations
for the International Committee of the Red Cross, also gave briefings
on the humanitarian situation in the region.

     The meeting reaffirmed the European Union's deep concern at the
deteriorating situation in eastern Zaire and the threat posed to peace
and stability in the entire Great Lakes region.  It reaffirmed the
Union's determination and commitment to do everything in its power to
help and to assist immediately vulnerable people, refugees and
displaced persons in eastern Zaire, in averting further human tragedy
there and in avoiding a potentially catastrophic humanitarian disaster
in the region.  The meeting also reiterated the view of the Union that
the complex problems at issue could only be resolved through early and
substantive dialogue, and called again on all parties concerned,
including in particular Zaire and Rwanda, to begin such a process as
soon as possible.  The meeting acknowledged the strong interconnection
between the immediate humanitarian requirements and the broader
political issues underlying the conflict and the need to address them
in a comprehensive way.

     In that regard, the meeting expressed full support for the efforts
of the United Nations regional leaders and the Organization of African
Unity (OAU) to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive resolution of
the conflict and reaffirmed the Union's commitment to assist in every
way possible.  It welcomed the outcome of the Nairobi summit of heads
of State of the region on 5 November 1996.  The meeting endorsed the
call by the heads of State in their press statement for an immediate
ceasefire, which should be strictly observed to enable the
intensification of diplomatic efforts to achieve lasting peace.  The
meeting shared the view expressed by the regional heads of State
concerning the importance of the territorial integrity of Zaire, in
accordance with the OAU charter and, in particular, the Cairo
Declaration of 1964, an end to cross-border incursion and the
inalienable rights of all people, including those of citizenship and
nationality.  The meeting welcomed the call by the heads of State for
the immediate setting up of safe corridors and temporary sanctuaries
inside Zaire to facilitate humanitarian assistance and the
repatriation of refugees and noted their request in that regard to the
Security Council for the deployment of a "neutral force".  The meeting
also welcomed the call by the heads of State for the intensification
of efforts towards voluntary repatriation of refugees to Rwanda and
the "implementation of the long-standing decision to separate the
intimidators and bona fide refugees".  The meeting also underlined the
importance of support for the democratic process in Zaire.

     The meeting noted that special arrangements were urgently required
in the short term to ensure a stable security situation in eastern
Zaire, to facilitate both the necessary humanitarian tasks and the
process of dialogue.  It noted that efforts to that end were being
pursued by the Security Council, taking into account recent proposals
which had been made.  The French and Spanish Ministers briefed the
meeting on their proposal in that regard for a temporary force for
strictly humanitarian purposes in order to enable the delivery of aid
to the populations concerned.

     In that context, the meeting recalled the conclusions of the
European Council held at Florence, on 21 and 22 June 1996, which
indicated that the Council "continues to support the convening of an
international conference under the joint auspices of the United
Nations and the Organization of African Unity in order to address,
within a global approach, the root causes of the crises and to ensure
respect for commitments".

     The meeting expressed its warm appreciation of the efforts of the
Special Envoy of the European Union in seeking, on behalf of EU, to
facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict and to address the
immediate humanitarian requirements, and welcomed the fact that
Mr. Ajello would be continuing his work in the region in that regard. 
It looked forward to close coordination between him and the newly
appointed Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United
Nations, Ambassador Raymond Chre'tien.

     The meeting agreed to send immediately a special mission of
development Ministers from Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands,
together with Commissioner Bonino, to make an assessment of the
humanitarian situation and to identify ways and means to speed up
humanitarian assistance.  The Special Envoy of the European Union will
also participate in the mission.  The conclusions of the mission will
be transmitted urgently to the General Affairs Council.

     The meeting recalled the Union's commitment to promote the
voluntary return of refugees to their countries of origin.  It
strongly underlined the need to ensure safe and protected humanitarian
corridors in order to facilitate the delivery of immediate relief
supplies to the victims of the crisis where they are, as well as the
voluntary safe and dignified return of refugees to their countries of
origin.  The need for support for development efforts as well as for
strengthening the legal system, notably within Rwanda, to facilitate
the integration of returned refugees was also noted.

     The meeting agreed on the need to work in a coordinated manner
with international humanitarian agencies and non-governmental
organizations to ensure an effective humanitarian response to the
crisis and underlined the coordinating role of the Department of
Humanitarian Affairs in the United Nations system.  It noted the
resource needs of the humanitarian agencies and agreed on the
importance of ensuring that aid resources were made available for
agreed priorities as a matter of urgency.  The meeting called on all
parties in the region to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of
all international humanitarian aid personnel.

     Since the beginning of the crisis in the Great Lakes region in
1994, the European Community and its member States have provided in
the order of 755 million ecus in humanitarian aid.  At the meeting,
the humanitarian agencies indicated that they would shortly be in a
position to approach the Community and the member States regarding
precise requirements and needs.  It was agreed that the most urgent
consideration would be given to those appeals.

     Ministers emphasized that the scale of the current humanitarian
crisis in the Great Lakes region called for a coherent and concerted
international response.  It was reaffirmed that the Union would play
its full part in that task.


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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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