To prevent widespread death among the more than 1 million Rwandan refugees in Zaire, ``we need a military operation like the one that supplied Berlin after World War II,'' says Sergio Piazzi, a senior United Nations relief official in Goma, Zaire.
Some refugees are already dying. Only 10 percent of the minimal daily food needs and even less of the water required is reaching Goma, Mr. Piazzi says. But there is a lack of personnel to distribute food even if the 600 to 1,000 tons a day of food is delivered here, he says. International military help is desperately needed, he adds.
The United States Defense Department announced Tuesday it would begin 78 relief flights into Zaire Wednesday.
The airport at Goma needs expanding but can currently handle a limited number of large cargo planes. But the airport at Bukavu, Zaire, where new refugees are arriving, is tiny. Quite soon, truck convoys, which carry much more than airplanes, must arrive in both places to supply food and other relief materials.
Another 150,000 refugees crossed into Zaire near Bukavu this week, and another 750,000 are heading toward various points along Zaire's border, the UN reports.
A US diplomat says US Marines might be needed in Rwanda to convince Hutu refugees it is safe to return home.