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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Rwanda/Burundi: InterAction Statement
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Rwanda/Burundi: InterAction Statement
Date Distributed (ymd): 950804

InterAction News Release
American Council for Voluntary International Action
WASHINGTON, DC 20036 PHONE: (202) 667-8227
Contact: Mike Kiernan

July 13, 1995

U.S. Coalition Warns of Escalating Violence in Central
Africa; Hundreds of Thousands More People Could Die in
Burundi, Rwanda

WASHINGTON - - Hundreds of thousands more people could die
in strife-torn Burundi and Rwanda in the coming months
unless western nations, led by the United States and France,
take immediate steps to break the cycle of violence and
insecurity in the Central African region, representatives of
many of the nation's most prestigious humanitarian aid,
human rights and foreign policy groups warned today.

Extremists are growing more powerful in both Rwanda and
Burundi while there is growing evidence that Hutu forces,
defeated a year ago, are rearming themselves in Zaire for an
invasion of Rwanda, the groups reported. "Both countries
seem to be sliding toward another catastrophe," they said.

The warning comes one year after more than one million
Rwandans, mostly Hutus, began to flee into Zaire, fearing
reprisals from Tutsi rebels who defeated Hutu forces and won
control of the country last summer. The huge migration, the
largest in recent African history, followed three months of
genocide in Rwanda in which at least 500,000 Tutsis were

In a letter to the White House, the groups recommended that
President Clinton ensure that a high-level envoy seeks the
implementation of a series of emergency measures in the
region. These actions would include imposing tighter
controls over the flow of arms in the region and providing
immediate assistance for police and judicial institutions in
both countries.

The coalition also demanded that western nations and
international financial institutions meet their financial
commitments to Rwanda by releasing more than $600 million
pledged last year to help stabilize the country.
"Governments and international organizations have promised
much since last year's genocide. Now is the time for them to
deliver," the letter noted.

The letter added: "Only a coordinated regional approach that
ends impunity, disarms and disempowers the extremists,
creates security for proponents of justice and
reconciliation, and enables refugees and the displaced to
return home can stop this region's slide toward disaster."

Representatives of 33 humanitarian aid, human rights and
foreign policy groups signed the letter. These agencies are
listed on the last page of the statement. A full text of the
statement follows.

Statement on Urgent International Action for Rwanda and

Nowhere in the world are more people in danger of losing
their lives to political violence in the coming months than
in the Central African countries of Rwanda and Burundi. We
have ample warnings of impending conflict -- reports that
militias are rearming, that armies are committing massacres,
that populations are fleeing violence, and that food
shortages are multiplying these tensions. We have the
examples of last year's genocide in Rwanda and the 1993
massacres in Burundi before our eyes as the consequence of
failure to act.

Only decisive and swift action by major states and
international organizations can avert these disasters. This
crisis is political in origin and can only be solved through
political means. If the international community fails, we,
the humanitarian and advocacy organizations, will again be
left to pick up the pieces, aided by a generous but
increasingly exhausted public. Governments and international
organizations have promised much since last year's genocide.
Now is the time for them to deliver.

The genocide in Rwanda caught much of the world unawares,
although plenty of warning was available, and it continued
in full view for nearly three months. Now the Hutu extremist
perpetrators are rearming in exile, Tutsi extremists are
gaining ground within Rwanda, and the international
community has failed to provide the resources to rebuild the
country and strengthen the moderates. In Burundi, where the
ethnic composition resembles Rwanda, the assassination of
the country's first democratically elected president, a
Hutu, by Tutsi extremist army officers in October 1993, led
to massacres of tens of thousands of both groups. As in
Rwanda, the perpetrators of these killings enjoy total
impunity, and the process of democratization and reform is
continually undermined by violence.

Both countries are spiraling downward toward another
catastrophe. Fragile reconstruction efforts were set back
when government forces opened indiscriminate fire on a camp
for displaced people at Kibeho, among whom were a small
number of armed Hutu extremists. The majority of victims
were innocent unarmed internally displaced people (IDPs) who
had fled violence. Reports from Zaire indicate that the
forces that committed the genocide are preparing to
re-invade the country. In Burundi, a cycle of indiscriminate
attacks and reprisals by Hutu extremist militias and the
Tutsi-dominated army is leaving a mounting death toll and
destroying the fragile framework of political accommodation.
The extremists of both groups have increased their
cooperation across national boundaries. Hundreds of
thousands more people could die in the coming months unless
this cycle of violence and insecurity is stopped.

Only a coordinated regional approach that ends impunity,
disarms and disempowers the extremists, creates security for
proponents of justice and reconciliation, and enables
refugees and the displaced to return home can stop this
region's slide toward disaster. Therefore we, a group of
private organizations engaged in humanitarian and advocacy
work, have come together to urge the United States, the
United Nations, and the world to urgently implement a set of
policies -- many of them already promised -- to meet these
goals. The cost will be cheap compared to the cost of
failure -- a cost that will be measured not only in lives
lost, investments destroyed, and vast funds squandered on
relief for preventable disasters, but in our honor and

We recommend:

All donors should immediately release the more than $600
million in funding that has already been pledged to Rwanda.
The U.S. and France must assume international leadership to
transform the "Rwanda Operation Support Group" into a
consortium that will unblock the pledged funds and
vigorously monitor well-defined timetables, effective
judicial action, and implementation of the human rights
guarantees. This donor group should develop a regional
strategy and become a consortium for the entire Great Lakes
region of Central Africa.

 The President should ensure that a high-level special envoy
is empowered to oversee the implementation of these
recommendations. The U.S. must take the lead to see that
international organizations work effectively and that our
government and other major states collaborate fully.

 The UN, in consultation with the Organization of African
Unity, must expedite launching of a "Regional Consultative
Mission," to be led by an eminent statesman and supported by
a small team of experts familiar with recent peace,
humanitarian, and technical assistance operations in the
region, that could shuttle for no more than 90 days among
Central African capitals to help prepare a regional summit
on security and cooperation by the end of 1995. Such a
mission would be consistent with the Secretary General's
intention, stated in his most recent report to the Security
Council on Rwanda, to appoint a regional special envoy and
convene a regional conference. Developing a plan for
collective action to control the flow of arms int the
region, particularly the de-militarization of refugee and
insurgent groups, must be a top priority for this regional
summit. This summit should be supported by an additional
conference, with full participation by local and
international non-governmental organizations .

The UN should immediately deploy military observers at the
airports and camps in eastern Zaire to curb the arms which
are reportedly being supplied to exiled Rwandan genocidal
forces. This action was recommended by UN Security Council
Resolution 997, implementation of which was the goal of the
recent trip to the region by Under Secretary General Aldo
Ajello. In addition, we urge the following actions which
could minimize the possibility of an invasion of Rwanda by
genocidal forces in Zaire:
     All states to share intelligence information on the
     rearming of extremists and the sources of the arms and

     Immediate activation of the UN Sanctions Committee
     established to monitor compliance with the arms embargo
     declared in UN Security Council Resolution 918 and
     clarified in Resolution 997;

     Enhanced UN coordination of humanitarian aid in the
     entire region to assure that it promotes security and

     The international community must fully support measures
     to establish institutions of legal accountability for
     crimes against humanity, including:

     Full funding and support for the Rwandan War Crimes
     Tribunal, including the swift arrest and delivery of
     suspects named by the Tribunal;

     Immediate and long-term assistance toward the
     establishment of police and judicial institutions in
     both countries, including secondment of Francophone
     police and judicial officers, training, penal and
     prison reform, and long-term support, regardless of any
     embargoes on aid in other areas;

     Swift formation of an International Commission of
     Inquiry into the Burundi massacres of late 1993, as
     repeatedly requested by the government of Burundi;

     Full funding and deployment of human rights monitors in
     Rwanda and Burundi.

     Restriction of access to visas and foreign bank
     accounts by extremists and by those who support or
     participate in act of violence in both countries, whose
     names are well known to governments and international

     Preparations of measures to disable any radios that
     broadcast calls inciting genocide or massacre,
     accompanied by support for genuine pluralism in the
     media and public sphere.

     These measures can only be accomplished through full
     partnership among North American, European, and African
     governments, among international organizations, and the
     private sector. The United States government and
     public, in particular, showed themselves willing last
     year to provide generously for the victims of conflict
     in Rwanda. Despite understandable concern with our
     domestic problems, we cannot ignore vast threats to
     humanity such as loom today over Central Africa. To do
     so would make a mockery of the international
     community's commitment against genocide.

Representatives of these agencies signed the statement
Adventist Development and Relief Agency International,
African American Institute, Africare, Air Serve
International, American Friends Service Committee, American
Refugee Committee, Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team
(AMURT), Bread for the World, Center for Migration Studies,
Center for Preventive Action of the Council on Foreign
Relations, Church World Service, Congressional Hunger
Center, Food for the Hungry, International Global
Development Associates, Human Rights Watch, Institute for
Policy Studies, InterAction, International Action Against
Hunger (AICF), International Foundation for Agathe
Uwilinjiyinana, International Human Rights Law Group,
International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee,
Islamic African Relief Agency, Lutheran World Relief, MAP
International, Medecins Sans Frontieres USA, Missionaries of
Africa, Operation USA, OXFAM America, Refugees
International, Save the Children, US Committee for Refugees,
World Concern Development Organization, World Vision Relief
and Development

InterAction, a membership association of more than 150 U.S.
non-profit organizations, is the nation's leading advocate
for international humanitarian efforts including relief,
development, refugee assistance, environment, population,
and global education.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution
by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's
primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the
United States around African issues and the U.S. role
in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible
policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a
wide range of groups and individuals.  APIC is
affiliated with the Washington Office on Africa (WOA),
a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights
group supported organization that works with Congress
on Africa-related legislation.


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