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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
UN general's Rwandan nightmares
Skulls from the Rwandan genocide preserved for the Arusha tribunal
Skulls from the genocide preserved for the tribunal
The Canadian general who headed the failed United Nations peacekeeping mission in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994 has been recounting the nightmares he still suffers.

Speaking for the first time since he was found unconscious in a park in Quebec late last month, General Romeo Dallaire said he still experiences flashbacks of mutilated and decaying corpses.

The option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive

General Dallaire
In a letter read on CBC radio, the general said that he had contemplated suicide several times because of his inability to prevent the mass killings of more than 800,000 Rwandans.

General Dallaire had warned his UN superiors of the impending genocide three months before it began, but his request for more troops was turned down.

Innocent trampled

He retired from the Canadian military in April, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

General Romeo Dallaire
General Dallaire could not forget
In his letter, General Dallaire blamed the incident in the park on his experiences in Rwanda.

"The anger, the rage, the hurt and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends and society's normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive," he said.

He warned that many more Canadian soldiers would suffer problems like his after returning from peacekeeping missions abroad.

He described them as "dangerous and at times devastating operational missions where Canada is not at risk, but where humanitarianism is destroyed and the innocent are being literally trampled into the ground".

For a long time, General Dallaire was prevented by the UN from testifying about his experiences to the international tribunal on the Rwandan genocide in Arusha, Tanzania, and when he finally spoke, his evidence was not made public.

OAU report

The killings were triggered by the still-unexplained shooting down of a plane carrying the Rwandan Hutu presidents in April 1994.

Humanitarianism is destroyed and the innocent are literally trampled into the ground

General Dallaire
A report by the Organisation of African Unity into the plane crash and killings is due out in Lome on Friday in advance of the OAU summit.

The report, compiled by former Botswana President Ketumile Masire, will be the first official international account of events that proved a turning point for the region.

The genocide led within months to the overthow of Rwanda's Hutu government by Tutsi-led forces and eventually to the overthrow of President Mobutu of Zaire by rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

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See also:

11 Jan 00 | Africa
Rwandans to sue UN
17 Dec 99 | Africa
UN should make amends - Rwanda
16 Dec 99 | Africa
UN admits failure in Rwanda
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