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Friday, May 8, 1998 Published at 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK



World: Africa

Annan visits Rwandan death sites
image: [ A shocking reminder for the  UN Secretary General of the brutality of the 1994 genocide ]
A shocking reminder for the UN Secretary General of the brutality of the 1994 genocide

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has completed his visit to Rwanda with a tour of memorials and sites commemorating up to one million people who died in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The tour followed a hostile reception in the Rwandan parliament on Thursday when the UN was accused of failing Rwanda by not doing enough to stop the killings.


Mr Annan: "The world failed the people of Rwanda" (1'12'')
At one site, at Kigali, survivors told Mr Annan how they had held off armed Hutu killers with rocks and sticks for eight days while waiting in vain for help from UN peace-keepers.

They told him how they had felt abandoned by the UN when the slaughter began of Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists.

Later, Mr Annan and his wife walked through a building filled with the bones of an estimated 3,000 genocide victims.

Mr Annan said he shared the survivors' pain, and promised that the UN would give them all the support it could.

Admission of failure


The BBC's UN Correspondent Rob Watson reports by satellite phone from Kigali
At a news conference in Kigali attended by the Rwandan President, Pasteur Bizimungu, Mr Annan said he'd found the visit useful.

He said he was leaving Rwanda with the belief that the government was organised and determined to rebuild the country.

Earlier, Mr Annan admitted there had been UN failures, but said the tragedy had come from within the country and that Rwandans had to change themselves if they wanted to restore trust.

He had felt the full force of Rwanda's anger when he was criticised after a speech in the Rwandan parliament and then boycotted by the Rwandan president who he was to have dinner with.


[ image: Rwandans flee the killings]
Rwandans flee the killings
He sat through a blistering indictment of the UN's alleged failures before, during and after the genocide, delivered by Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana.

Mr Gasana attacked the UN and its predecessor, the League of Nations, for its treatment of Rwanda since 1922.

He accused the UN of failing to halt the bloodshed despite possessing precise information about the planning and preparation of the genocide.

He demanded to know who was responsible for the "lack of political" which led to UN failure in Rwanda.

Mr Annan admitted that "signs were not recognised" and that "the world failed the people of Rwanda", but he refused to apologise, saying the country's horror had come from within.

His remarks drew a stinging response from a spokesman for the Rwandan President who described Mr Annan's remarks as "arrogant, insulting and insensitive".

Warning signs

Mr Annan's visit to Rwanda is the last leg of his tour of Eastern Central Africa. The trip had gone smoothly and Mr Annan had received a hero's welcome in many parts.

Earlier on the tour he visited the UN war crimes tribunal in Arusha, in Tanzania, where many of those implicated in the Rwandan genocide are being tried.

Mr Annan said the court was a sign of the organisation's commitment to the region's future, which had to begin with justice.

The BBC UN correspondent, who is travelling with Mr Annan, says UN officials believe that for the Secretary General to leave at this stage would be politically dangerous despite the tension.


 





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