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The director of the Catholic charity Cafod has called the Rwandan genocide “one of the greatest abdications of global leadership” in history, adding that world leaders should be ashamed of their failure to intervene.
The genocide, in which almost a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu Rwandans were killed over 100 days in 1994, “should burn on the conscience of our governments,” Chris Bain added in a statement to mark its 20th anniversary.
The United Nations barely intervened in the genocide because the US Government was reluctant to get involved in what it called a local conflict, and argued against intervention at the UN Security Council. The US lobbied the UN for a total withdrawal of UN forces from Rwanda in April 1994.
“What happened 20 years ago was not just one of the most horrific crimes in history, but one of the greatest abdications of global leadership,” Mr Bain said. “Many renowned figures should hang their heads in shame this month. Rwanda burns in the consciousness of the world, but it should burn on the conscience of our governments.”
Mr Bain, who in the aftermath of the genocide worked with survivors who had fled to refugee camps in what was then Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of Congo – praised the NGOs that came to Rwanda’s aid and the people – mainly women, he said – who helped to rebuild the country.
Cafod is providing prayers, films and other resources to help parishes and communities who are marking the anniversary at services on 5-6 April.