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DoD News Briefing - Secretary Perry Comments on Zaire - Nov.16, 1996

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry - Comments on Zaire
November 16, 1996

Saturday, November 16, 1996

Secretary Perry: I'll just take advantage of having all of you together here to give you a brief status report on developments in Zaire. There have been some very interesting and positive developments in Zaire in the last two days.

Many of the refugees who left the refugee camps in the Goma and Bukavu area and had been heading toward Western Zaire, have turned around, headed east, and tens of thousands of these are now streaming across the border from Zaire into Rwanda. The Rwandan government has been receiving them.

If this trend continues, it will change substantially the nature of the humanitarian problem in the region. It will not eliminate the need for humanitarian support, but it will substantially change the nature of that need.

We have a survey team on the ground at this time. When we get the report from them on the details of the situation on the ground, we will certainly review our plans and we will discuss it with the allies. It is possible that our plan and the allies' plan at that stage will be modified as a result of these developments. We will keep you informed as the situation develops.

But we do not have, at this point, we have not made at this point, a change in our plans. We are standing by in a ready mode to move forward with humanitarian support, and just as soon as we get the detailed information from our survey team about what the precise situation on the ground is, then we will make our decision and move, and we will tell you when that happens. Thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary, when do you expect to hear from the survey team?

A: We expect to hear today. Over the weekend, but I expect a first report from them today.

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