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Deadly effects of Rwandan genocide still felt today

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06.04.2019

Stroll through the Rwandan capital, Kigali, today and you'll encounter well-kept streets, new skyscrapers and business centers — a modern city. And yet, 25 years ago, these same streets — and roads throughout the country — were lined with hundreds of thousands of corpses. The putrid smell of decay hung the air.

It has been a quarter century since nearly 1 million people, most of them from the Tutsi minority group but also members of the Hutu majority, were massacred in Rwanda in the space of a few months.

It took a long time for the massacre to be recognized as a genocide against the Tutsis, and for the world to say that it would "never again" look the other way.

And yet, the world continues to look away every day. Not in Rwanda. But in Yemen, Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, in the Sahel. It's not always conspicuous mass killings. Instead, many smaller attacks occur on a daily basis, and they're largely ignored.

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Permalink https://p.dw.com/p/3GNSr

Arms in the wrong hands

At the moment, Germany, France and the UK are arguing about whether they should supply Saudi Arabia with weapons — and if yes, which weapons.

And yet, all three countries must be aware of what happens when weapons are sold to the wrong people. Recently, a DW report revealed that German arms are being used by Saudi forces to kill innocent people in the Yemen conflict.

In Rwanda, it emerged afterward that France had been supplying weapons to the regime until just shortly before the genocide. And instead of protecting civilians with the Operation Turquoise military intervention in June 1994, the French army allowed the perpetrators, along with their weapons, to retreat to what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The people in Congo have been suffering the effects of this failure ever since. Barely a day goes by without massacres and attacks by armed groups in eastern Congo. But because it's happening a little each day, and far away in small villages, the violent killings are largely ignored by the media. The international community only tends to react when the body count hits 100 or more.

On April 6, 1994, unidentified attackers shot down a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana as it was about to land at Kigali airport. President Habyarimana, his Burundian counterpart and eight other passengers died in the crash. The next day organized killings began. Massacres continued over the course of three months, and at least 800,000 Rwandans lost their lives.

After the assassination of the president, Hutu extremists attacked the Tutsi minority and Hutus who stood in their way. The murderers were well prepared and targeted human rights activists, journalists and politicians. One of the first victims on April 7 was Prime Minister Agathe Uwiringiymana.

While thousands of Rwandans were being killed every day, Belgian and French special forces evacuated about........

© Deutsche Welle