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UNHCR driver and three others killed in Rwanda

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UNHCR driver and three others killed in Rwanda

20 June 1997

Unknown gunmen shot and killed a UNHCR driver, his wife and two children Thursday night in north-western Rwanda.

Felicien Bucyekabili, 28, who was recruited by UNHCR only two months ago, was gunned down in his house in Kigombe commune seven kilometres outside Ruhengeri town at 7:30 p.m.

Also killed with Bucyekabili were his wife and two children - a boy aged 7 years and a 6-year-old girl. According to initial reports, the attackers sprayed gunfire into the house from a window.

High Commissioner Sadako Ogata strongly condemned the killings and called on the Rwandan government to take immediate measures against those responsible.

Mrs. Ogata sent a message of condolence to Bucyekabili's family and said UNHCR is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of its staff in Rwanda.

Bucyekabili, a former director of a Catholic youth association in Kigali, was the first UNHCR worker to be murdered in Rwanda since UNHCR resumed operations in the country in July 1994 following the civil war and genocide.

The motive for the slaying was not immediately known.

Thursday's incident happened as UNHCR was attempting to relocate 15 local staff members living in nearby communes to Ruhengeri town as a security precaution following the slayings earlier this week of two workers of the World Food Programme and their relatives in the area.

Mrs. Ogata expressed deep concern at the deteriorating security situation in western Rwanda, where more than 1.3 million Rwandan refugees have returned over the last eight months. About 300,000 returnees, mostly those who came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, have settled in the Ruhengeri region.

"The security situation in the western prefectures of Rwanda has reached a point where it has become virtually impossible to carry out humanitarian programmes for returnees and others in need of help," Mrs. Ogata said. "Some of these areas have become totally inaccessible to us. In others, access is possible only with military escorts on main roads."

Mrs. Ogata said she is extremely worried that innocent civilians are being targeted in recent incidents. She said UNHCR and its partners are closely watching developments in Rwanda and are reviewing the future of their activities in consultation with the Rwandan authorities and governments in the region.