Magazine article UN Chronicle

Rwanda

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Rwanda

Article excerpt

The continuing spiral of violence in Burundi and Rwanda was affecting humanitarian operations in the two countries, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on 20 January. It also said that the violence in Rwanda had reached alarming levels, affecting refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

On 12 December, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata condemned the brutal killings of Congolese refugees in Rwanda. More than 300 people were killed and another 207 wounded at the Mudende refugee camp. The victims, mostly women and children who had fled the DRC, were hacked to death in their sleep. The Secretary-General stated he was "very concerned at the recent escalation of violence in the north and north-western regions of Rwanda" and called the killings "a brutal reminder of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that had devastating consequences for the Great Lakes Region". He added that it was "most distressing that after almost four years, prospects for peace, stability and national reconciliation remain dim and that efforts to find lasting solutions in Rwanda and the region have not been successful". All 17,000 refugees in the camp fled after the attack.

Speaking for the members on 15 December, Security Council President Fernando Berrocal Soto of Costa Rica strongly condemned the massacre. He stated that Council members urged the Government of Rwanda to cooperate fully with UNHCR in the protection of all refugees in the country. They also urged the Government to respect all human rights, in particular when performing its counter-insurgency operations, and stressed the importance of enabling the United Nations High Representative for Rwanda to carry out his monitoring mandate.

On 27 January, the International Commission of Inquiry - set up in September 1995 to collect information on the sale or supply of arms and related materiel to former Rwandan government forces in the Great Lakes Region, in violation of Council resolutions - reported that new information opened "fresh lines of inquiry" in the investigation of arms sales to former Rwandan government forces.

Of particular interest was information on an arms transaction that took place in Seychelles in June 1994. The Commission had previously concluded that the weapons in question were flown to Goma, Zaire and then transferred to the former government forces in Gisenyi, in violation of the Council-imposed arms embargo. …

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