I am deeply disturbed by the deteriorating security situation in eastern
Zaire. The conflict is undermining the already fragile political situation
in the Great Lakes region and has serious implications for peace and stability
throughout central Africa.
The Australian Government urges all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities,
to stop any provocative actions, and to adopt measures aimed at defusing
the mounting military tension, particularly along the border between Zaire
Above all, the Australian Government calls upon all parties to exercise
restraint and to demonstrate respect for the dignity and common humanity
of those people inadvertently caught up again in conflict.
The Government is following developments closely. We are currently developing
options for responding to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Zaire and
neighbouring countries. Australia stands ready to cooperate with international
agencies and non-government organisations in the provision of urgently-needed
Australia also supports and encourages international initiatives for
finding a political solution to the conflict. In that context, we support
the proposal by the UN Secretary General for the holding of a regional
conference and for the appointment of a high level Special Representative
to coordinate UN efforts to mediate a solution to the conflict. We have
previously contributed financially to mediation efforts.
We believe such initiatives should focus primarily on developing a comprehensive
approach , including confidence-building measures in both Rwanda and Burundi
designed to support the early, voluntary and safe return of refugees.
For further information, contact:
Peter Collins on (06) 277 7500 or .
John Munro, AusAID (06) 291 7516 (AH)
Bob Bowker, DFAT on (06) 261 3691 or 285 4389 (AH)