Interview Rony Brauman (former president MSF France) on emergency to bring aid to refugee and prepare their return to Rwanda and on camps under the grip of “genocidaires” – France 2 – 22 July 1994


In French (en français)


- TV presenter: Rony Brauman, good evening, you're the former president of Médecins sans Frontières, joining us directly from Montpellier. The French government wants to increase its medical aid. Philippe Douste Blazy is heading for Goma as we speak. The United States has announced that it will provide a total of 76 million dollars in aid. In your opinion, has the world got moving now? Has the degree of urgency been understood?

- Rony Brauman: Yes, it would seem so, we're at last seeing the international community come to life. But I would just like to correct one little error I heard in the report you just delivered. The people we're currently seeing in Zaire aren't the people who've fled the massacres. These are people who were urged to flee Rwanda and take refuge in either Tanzania, Zaire or the French security zones so that the new government in Rwanda has no people left to govern i.e. the country it holds power over is emptied of its people. In short, it's about creating sanctuaries from which this government will rebuild itself - I'm talking about the former government, sorry - to re-wrest control of Rwanda. So there are currently two emergencies, of equal importance. The first is the one you've shown - treating these people who are innocent and dying. We do indeed need to provide them with food, drinking water systems, nutritional centres and rehydration stations such as Dr. Vasset was describing a minute ago. It’s vital to react to this emergency now, and humanitarian organisations, governments and international organisations are moving into action.

- TV presenter: That's the first emergency.

- Rony Brauman: Right. There is another one, which is just as present and should be considered just as urgent – it’s the refugees' return to their country. Why? Partly because it's not just not an option to set up bases that are so volatile, so explosive, in countries that are themselves powder kegs. Secondly, because in Rwanda, the crops are dying in the fields and if they're not harvested, another famine will ravage the country. And thirdly, last but by no means least: Rwanda needs to get back on its feet, collect itself, re-build its identity, and this will only happen if people resettle themselves peacefully.

- Presenter: But Rony Brauman, if the refugees are to return, isn't a prior political solution needed to provide them with political security?

- Rony Brauman: There's already the beginnings of a political solution. The government that's set itself up in Kigali is a government that's guaranteed, promised, the refugees that they need not be concerned - at least, not those who took no part in the major massacres, because it goes without saying that the warranties are for the innocent - they cannot exclude justice being done. Security cannot be put in the balance with ensuring justice is done. We need both security for people who've done no wrong, and justice for the murderers. There's a lot of people in these camps, because it also bears noting that the sites we’ve just seen in Tanzania, the French security zones and Zaire are literally locked down by the militia responsible for the genocide. The former government, responsible for the genocide, is building itself back up in these sanctuaries. So we must avoid setting up camps in these regions and everything must be done - it's an international responsibility of the utmost importance - to ensure, as quickly as possible, and I mean today and during the days to come, that a maximum number of refugees return to their villages and revert to a normal life. Then, as a second step, and here again speed is of the essence, in the weeks to come we need a process - a real process that is worthy of the name - put into place to judge the main guilty parties in the genocide. This will be hard to bring about because full justice is far from guaranteed, obviously. But the main guilty parties - those who launched the calls for hate and extermination via the famous radio station Milles Collines, the main leaders of the militia who have massacred hundreds of thousands of people, the Presidential guard (that France helped maintain) and a good part of the police force - these people must be judged.

- TV presenter: Rony Brauman, the doctor turns prosecutor.

- Rony Brauman: No, I'm not talking as a doctor here, I'm talking as a citizen, as an ardent admirer of, a supporter of democracy and justice. This is not about being a prosecutor, it's about calling for a minimum of justice to be done. If this process is not set up, the hate will continue to fester, seeping through the entire country and plunging it into a new cycle of violence, outbursts and reprisals like the ones we're already seen. So the refugees’ return, justice and assistance in re-starting the economy - these are the priorities, and they're just as important as the humanitarian priority that's so evident today.

- TV presenter: Thank you Rony Brauman, you're in Montpellier, we should mention that that you're working on a book on Rwanda, due to come out soon, which explains your knowledge and why you’re with us.