The scale and savagery of the killing shocked the world. The spark for the conflagration in Rwanda in 1994 was the death of President Juvenal Habyarimana. His plane was shot down – by whom is still not known – but Rwanda’s minority Tutsi tribe was blamed by the majority Hutus, who embarked on a 100-day orgy of violence.
It proved to be one of the worst periods in the history of the United Nations, revealing the impossibility of their role as peacekeepers in the face of such hatred. UN forces were overwhelmed by the killing. Under-manned, under-armed and totally unprepared, the soldiers were reduced to mere spectators as 800,000 people were butchered. The explosion of violence 14 years ago is at the root of the current fighting in neighbouring Congo. Tutsi rebel General Laurent Nkunda accuses Kinshasa of harbouring Hutus blamed for the genocide of 1994. In turn, Congo accuses Rwanda of backing Nkunda’s rebel forces.