Remembering Rwanda

April 11, 2004

"The international community failed Rwanda, and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret and abiding sorrow."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Ten years ago last week the most rapid genocide in recorded modern history began in Rwanda, an obscure Central Africa state about the size of Maryland. In about 100 days, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and their Hutu supporters were slaughtered, most often hacked to death by machete.

While this massacre took place, the United States, the United Nations and most Europe did nothing to prevent or to stop the slaughter.

The massacre began after an aircraft carrying Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, who had ruled Rwanda since 1973, was shot down near Rwanda's capital, Kigali. The violence eventually spilled over into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, sparking a civil war that involved troops from six other African nations. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is holding trials in neighboring Tanzania of leaders of the genocide.

2.5 million

Estimated number of deaths during a civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo sparked by the Rwandan violence

100,000

Number of children who head households in Rwanda after their parents were killed in the 1994 rampage, according to the U.N.

90,000

Number of suspects in the killings held by the Rwandan government, according to the U.N.

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