PERILOUS FLIGHT HOME : 13,000 FEARED DEAD SINCE ZAIRE FIGHTING ERUPTED.Byline: Tony Smith Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
Fidele Baliguoma's first steps into Rwanda on Saturday were wobbly ones: His swollen feet were covered with dried blood after walking 10 days and nights through forests with his wife and 10 children.
Baliguoma and fellow Hutu refugees fleeing fighting in northeastern Zaire between the Zairian army and rebel Tutsis climbed trees to keep their bearings and survived on roots and water squeezed from the mud.
When the deadly sounds of war reached his refugee camp, there was no time to gather food and water. ``We ran, we hardly took anything with us. That's why many people died,'' he said.
Baliguoma said he counted at least 10 bodies lying on forest paths during his journey. Without immediate, large-scale foreign intervention, aid workers fear many of the 1.1 million refugees will begin dying of starvation.
The journey is perilous even beyond the lack of food and water. Another arrival, Didas Ntibankaundiye, said many refugees were injured in the panicked flight, falling or getting lost on the steep, winding paths.
About 400 Zairian refugees drowned when their boat capsized while fleeing across Lake Tanganyika into Tanzania, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The boat from Uvira, Zaire, 90 miles from the Tanzanian lake port town of Kigoma, was overloaded and capsized Friday in high winds, arriving refugees told the Kigoma newspaper, Kalulu.
The newspaper said another boat carrying an unknown number of Zairian refugees lost its way, and its fate was unknown.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders Doctors Without Borders, Fr. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), international organization that provides emergency medical assistance to people suffering from a natural or societal disaster, such as an earthquake or war. estimates that more than 13,000 people already have died since fighting began in eastern Zaire three weeks ago.
The fighting displaced Zairians as well as the Hutu refugees from Rwanda and Burundi living in camps in eastern Zaire, many since 1994. The Hutu refugees had feared reprisals REPRISALS, war. The forcibly taking a thing by one nation which belonged to another, in return or satisfaction for a injury committed by the latter on the former. Vatt. B., 2, ch. 18, s. 342; 1 Bl. Com. ch. 7.
2. from the Tutsi-led army that took control of Rwanda, ousting a Hutu government responsible for the summer 1994 massacre of a half-million Tutsis.
Both the Zairian rebels and the Rwandan military, which patrols on the Rwandan side of the border, want the refugees to go home. But Hutus who fled to Zaire came mainly from sites of the most brutal slaughter in 1994. That made it easier for Hutu militias - which fled to Zairian camps with the civilians - to terrorize ter·ror·ize
tr.v. ter·ror·ized, ter·ror·iz·ing, ter·ror·iz·es
1. To fill or overpower with terror; terrify.
2. To coerce by intimidation or fear. See Synonyms at frighten. refugees into not returning home.
Early Saturday, the U.N. Security Council urged U.N. members to prepare for a multinational force A force composed of military elements of nations who have formed an alliance or coalition for some specific purpose. Also called MNF. See also multinational force commander; multinational operations. to secure corridors for delivering aid to refugees threatened by disease and famine. The Security Council, however, delayed deploying the force after the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. balked balk
v. balked, balk·ing, balks
1. To stop short and refuse to go on: The horse balked at the jump.
2. at immediate intervention.
The United States was urged by European nations, particularly France, to get on board soon. The European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the
European Community , through Humanitarian Aid Humanitarian aid is material or logistical assistance provided for humanitarian purposes, typically in response to humanitarian crises. The primary objective of humanitarian aid is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity. Commissioner Emma Bonino, pointedly criticized the United Nations for the delay.
``U.N. Security Council representatives should keep in mind that the thousands of refugees dying every day in Mugunga (refugee camp) cannot spend the weekend in Long Island, as they do,'' Bonino said in a statement issued in Brussels, Belgium.
Photo: A Rwandan boy stands in line with other refugees waiting to enter his homeland.