. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aid Groups Incensed Over UN Zaire Plan

GOMA, Zaire -- Pressure intensified on the United Nations and world powers to speed up a confused plan for a mission to save more than a million war refugees in Zaire.

Those lucky enough to escape continued to flee in their thousands by boat over Lake Tanganyika to the safety of neighboring Tanzania, aid workers said Sunday.

"Our staff in the Tanzanian port of Kigoma report an average arrival of 4,000 people a day in the area," said Jordi Riach, spokesman for the M?decins Sans Fronti?rs charity.

The UN Security Council decided Saturday to deploy a multinational force but its failure to state when or how it should go in was greeted with outrage in the humanitarian community.

Europe's top humanitarian official termed the UN inaction a scandal. France, which initiated the plan, pressed for early intervention, and the United States, moved by the unfolding calamity in Zaire, crawled cautiously toward action.

"We are actively studying what type of security component would be necessary for an intervention. We are also actively studying what role the U.S. might play as part of such a security component," a senior U.S. official said.

Both the United States and France are permanent members of the Security Council which gave UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali 11 days to report back to them with a "concept."

The failure to authorize immediate intervention in Zaire enraged those warning of catastrophe unless food and medicine is rushed to the Rwandan and Burundian refugees and east Zaireans caught up in a three-week rebellion.

"Those governments who have prevented the immediate authorization of a multinational protection force should explain to their citizens and the world why," European Commissioner Emma Bonino thundered in Brussels.

But diplomats said the United States, Britain and Russia all had grave reservations about the French-backed plan.

"What are the intentions? What are you going to do? Who are the bad guys and how are you going to separate them from the good guys?" asked a senior diplomat in Central Africa.

In Goma, the biggest east Zaire city captured by rebels in a growing insurrection against President Mobutu Sese Seko, Red Cross officials predicted disaster and some 120 exhausted, hungry refugees arrived after walking for more than a week.

Rioting Zaireans seized the last food from a UN warehouse. A German aid mission brought some hope on Saturday, delivering the first medical supplies to reach Goma since rebels captured the city just over a week ago. Ethnic Tutsi rebels have seized Zaire's two eastern provinces since Oct. 18.

People in Goma, the target of more planned aid missions as no one else can be reached, are the fortunate ones compared to the more than a million refugees trapped on the other side of the front line, where anarchy reigns.

Riach said refugees, many of them Zaireans, joining some 26,000 who have already reached Tanzania in overcrowded and rickety boats told of fighting and widespread looting across the lake in Fizi, south of Uvira where the rebellion began.