BY Ian Dunn | April 10 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11 Rwandan refugee children

Order re-pledges support to Rwanda 20 years after genocide

The Order of Malta has pledged to work to prevent any repeat of the Rwandan genocide, 20 years after it played a key role in saving the victims of violence there.

“Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide is an important occasion to reflect on the pivotal role the international community must play in preventing such dreadful crimes,” Grand Hospitaller Albrecht von Boeselager, the order’s minister for health and humanitarian affairs, said. “The Order of Malta will continue to play its role, thanks to its independent, apolitical and neutral nature to build bridges of understanding and dialogue.”

The first teams of the Order of Malta arrived in northern Rwanda in the region of Byumba shortly after the massacre started. Medical emergency relief was provided for over five months to about 30,000 internally displaced persons in three different camps. In the district of Kiziguro, north of Kigali, in November 1994 staff from the Order of Malta started the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the local medical facilities, including the district hospital in Kiziguro and seven destroyed health centres. In addition basic health care was provided to about 150,000 inhabitants.

The order began its work in the regions of Goma and Bukavu in the DR Congo where 1.3 million Rwandan refugees had fled. Here between the end of July 1994 and January 1995 Order of Malta teams worked to re-establish water plants and provide medical emergency relief and basic health care to the refugees. From November 1996 to February 1997, due to fighting between Congolese army and Hutu rebels, more than a million Rwandan refugees were forced to flee the camps in DR Congo and Tanzania. Order of Malta volunteers provided water supplies for the refugees returning to Rwanda.

In April 1994, members of the Hutu majority in Rwanda organised and implemented the mass slaughter of the Tutsi minority. In just 100 days over 800,000 Tutsi were slaughtered – 10,000 killed each day, 7 every minute. The genocide was sparked by the death of the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

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