December 16, 1996 – Message From Mogadishu – Rwandan Refugees Swamp Tanzania Border – The Matter Of Greeks And Turks And Cyprus
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December 16, 1996 – News for this day had almost everything to do with Africa and nothing to do with peace. A flareup of rebel fighting in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu was intensifying and forcing many civilians to flee. For the first time since the war began some four years earlier, heavy artillery bombardments broke out across the city. Civilians were reported to be fleeing the city for safety. Reports came in that shells and mortar bombs were falling indiscriminately across Mogadishu and casualties were initially put at over 100 civilians since the flareup got started only three days before. Fighting was between rival factions and the city of Mogadishu was already overcrowded from civilians feeling fighting going on in surrounding areas outside the city.
Meanwhile, thousands of refugees were streaming back into Rwanda from camps in Tanzania. Officials of the United Nations Refugee Agency said they had counted some 15,000 Hutu refugees crossing into Rwanda during the first 3 hours the border had been opened, including the roughly 25,000 refugees who had crossed into Rwanda the day before. Authorities were said to be using a helicopter to spot refugee groups still attempting to evade repatriation. Reports said a large contingent of Hutu militiamen were intimidating the refugees as they attempted to cross the border.
And the British Foreign Secretary was having talks in Cyrpus as part of a growing international effort to end division on the island. Malcolm Rifkind was in Cyprus for talks aimed at encouraging a settlement of the long-standing conflict between the island’s Greek an Turkish communities. He met with the Greek Cypriot leader Glafcos Clerides and remarked the talks so far were encouraging. He had hoped that the following year (1997) would bring an important breakthrough in Cyrpus. He also expressed concern over the militarization of the island, saying there was a dangerously high quantity of weapons being stockpiled by both sides. Mr. Rifkin was later meeting with the Turkish Cypriot community. Diplomatic efforts to bring the two sides together were described as “intense”.
And that’s just a little of what happened, this December 16, 1996 as presented by The BBC World Service Hourly News.