Blair-Bush Visit to Rwandan Memorial Highlights International Duty to Protect Victims of Genocide
|Aegis Trust, 14 Juin 2005|
On Thursday 14 July, the US First Lady, Laura Bush, together with Cherie Blair, wife of the British Prime Minister, will visit the Kigali Memorial Centre, Rwanda.
Created by genocide prevention organisation the Aegis Trust, in conjunction with survivors and the City Council, the Kigali Memorial Centre is modelled on the Holocaust Centre in the UK, also run by Aegis.
A place of dignity for the victims of the 1994 genocide, it gives a voice to survivors, provides education for a new generation and conveys a strong warning to the international community about the failure to protect those at risk of mass murder.
Within the grounds of the Centre lie mass graves in which the 250,000 murdered in Kigali during the genocide are buried. Laura Bush and Cherie Blair will visit these graves and pay their respects to those who died. They will also be taken on a tour of the centre’s exhibitions by a survivor of the killing in 1994, which occurred while the international community and the governments of the UN Security Council stood by.
Despite international expressions of shame over inaction during the 1994 slaughter, eleven years on genocide has again gone unchecked in Africa – this time in Darfur, western Sudan.
In the past two years, 180,000 – 300,000 black Africans have been killed by Arab militias backed by Sudanese Government air and land forces. Over two million have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ from their homes and villages, now languishing in Internally Displaced People’s camps in Darfur or in refugee camps over the border in eastern Chad.
Urgency of protection
In March this year, the Aegis Trust launched the ‘Protect Darfur’ campaign, supported by over 100 MPs and by survivors from the Holocaust, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The campaign calls for the UN to mandate peace enforcement operations in Darfur.
The AU force currently on the ground, which includes a substantial Rwandan contingent, has done sterling work but lacks the mandate and the resources to effectively protect civilians throughout Darfur.
A minimum of 25,000 troops is needed to deal with the militias and ensure that the displaced can return to their villages in safety. If the displaced cannot return home, they will miss the fourth planting season in a row – and face the worst famine Africa has seen in two decades.