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The BBC's Mark Devenport
"Blame is not only pointed at UN officials"
 real 28k

The BBC's Roger Hearing
"Five years and half a million lives too late"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 23:06 GMT
UN admits failure in Rwanda

Thousands were killed in the massacres


The United Nations has accepted the findings of a damning report which accuses it of failing to prevent the genocide in Rwanda more than five years ago.



The UN failed the people of Rwanda during the genocide in 1994
Inquiry report
An independent inquiry team - headed by former Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson - said the UN had ignored evidence that genocide was planned and had refused to act once it had started.

The inquiry concluded that the UN should apologise to the Rwandan people.

In response, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed bitter regret and promised action to prevent another such disaster. A Rwandan presidential spokesman said Mr Annan should come to Kigali in person to apologise.

"We expect the secretary-general to come here to personally offer his apologies and those of the UN. We hope he will take the trouble because he was in charge at the time," said Patrick Mazimhaka, minister in the president's office.



On behalf of the UN, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse
Kofi Annan
The report highlights the role of Mr Annan, who was head of UN peacekeeping at the time, sharply criticising his failure to act on a warning of the risk of genocide sent by the head of the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda.

It also criticises Belgium for unilaterally withdrawing its peacekeepers after the murder of 10 of its soldiers.

The decision of peacekeepers to retreat from a school, leaving civilians inside to be butchered, is described as "disgraceful".

The inquiry makes a number of policy recommendations designed to ensure similar failings do not happen again.

Holocaust comparison


1994 genocide
April
Rwandan President Hayarimana killed in aircraft explosion
April-July
An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed by army and Hutu militia
July
Tutsi-led rebel movement (RPF) captures capital, Kigali
July
Hutu militia and more than 1m Hutus flee to Zaire
Mr Annan asked the inquiry team to examine the issue after persistent criticism of the UN's failure to act on warnings.

The three-man inquiry team was appointed in April. It conducted interviews with key players and had access to the UN's files.

Handing his report to Mr Annan, Mr Carlsson compared the events in Rwanda with the Nazi holocaust against the Jews in World War II.

The inquiry chairman said he hoped his report would help heal the wrongs and avert any future genocide.

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See also:
16 Dec 99 |  Africa
UN's lack of will highlighted
31 Mar 99 |  Africa
Rwanda slaughter 'could have been prevented'
18 Mar 99 |  Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
04 May 98 |  Africa
Annan defends record on Rwanda
08 Dec 99 |  Africa
Prosecutor to pursue genocide suspect
21 Jun 99 |  Africa
Rwanda arrests 'hate radio' journalist

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