• Short Summary

    The first of the European refugees evacuated from the fighting in southern Zaire arrived in Paris and Brussels on Sunday (21 May).

  • Description

    The first of the European refugees evacuated from the fighting in southern Zaire arrived in Paris and Brussels on Sunday (21 May).

    SYNOPSIS: In paris, there was an emotional reunion of refugees with their friends and relatives at the airport. A first plane load of about 80 French refugees from the town of Kolwesi in Zaire's Shaba province arrived on a special flight. Some people simply broke down and cried, their journey over, and unable to stand the stress of meeting the large press contingent. A number of the refugees, like this woman, were injured. Five wounded French foreign Legionnaires were also on the flight.

    At Brussels airport, three-hundred refugees landed aboard a DC-ten, one of a fleet of aircraft involved in the evacuation. Among them were a number of stretcher cases. A Belgian television reporter who flew with the refugees said a second evacuation plane had been ordered to land in Algeria for a check to see whether any soldiers were aboard. There was an official diplomatic protest from Belgium, but later flights were diverted to avoid Algerian air space. Inside the airport terminal, friends and relatives waited for a sight of their loved ones. There were also those whose relatives were on the lists of the dead or missing, hoping for news from the survivors and hoping that the lists might be wrong. By late Sunday afternoon, (21 May) about 2,000 refugees had been air-lifted to Brussels. All were tired. Some were on the point of collapse.

    Some of the Kolwezi survivors had to be helped by air hostesses, ground staff and Red Cross personnel across the tarmac to the reception centre set up by the Belgian government. There, they told of the horror of Kolwezi, of how undisciplined rebels, many of them apparently drunk or on drugs, looted and killed indiscriminately. Some said lives might have been saved if the international rescue operation had started earlier. Others told of escaping a fate which had befallen many friends. this man said he had managed to stay away from the worst of the violence but the rebels shot men, women and children. He said some of his close friends were simply put up against a wall and shot, for no apparent reason.

    In Kolwezi, the refugees said, rebels shot Europeans through the windows of their homes. White people who had weapons in their houses were taken for mercenaries and shot on the spot. There was general agreement that the worst mass killing of Europeans took place last Wednesday (17 May) before it was known that French and Belgian troops were being sent into Zaire.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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