The Great Lakes of Africa Crises 1994-1997

The first case study: Genocide of Rwandan Tutsis 1994 depicts the MSF reaction when confronted with systematic extermination of Rwandan Tutsis between April and July 1994. The case studies draw from internal field reports, press articles, transcripts from the testimonies of MSF field staff and video footage from MSF and the media. They illuminate the dynamics, dilemmas and disagreements underlying MSF’s humanitarian response to the crisis in Rwanda.

Three more case studies cover the period 1994-1997 when the humanitarian consequences of the genocide affected refugees and host populations. These case studies document the disaster that unfolded in camps in Zaire and Tanzania when over a million people were under the tight control of ‘refugee leaders’ who were also responsible for the genocide, the abuses committed by the new Rwandan regime during and after the genocide, the hunting and killings of the Rwandan refugees in Zaire by the rebel forces supported by the Rwandan army.

Photo: Rwandese refugees in Goma, Zaire. July 1994. © Roger Job.

Genocide of Rwandan Tutsi 1994

Genocide of Rwandan Tutsi (1994)

The “Genocide of Rwandan Tutsis 1994” case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas met by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) during the genocide of Rwandan Tutsis in April, May and June 1994. The killings occurred in spite of the presence of UN troops in Rwanda, and the members of the UN Security Council were slow to call the Tutsi extermination ‘genocide’, hence evading the obligation to intervene and stop the slaughter, as stipulated by international law.

Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995

Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995

The “Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire -Tanzania 1994-1995” case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas met by MSF when confronted with camps under the tight control of ‘refugee leaders” responsible for the genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis from April to June 1994.

The camps were transformed into rear bases from which the reconquest of Rwanda was sought, via a massive diversion of aid, violence, propaganda, and threats against refugees wishing to repatriate.

The violence of the new Rwandan regime 1994-1995

The violence of the new Rwandan regime 1994-1995

The ‘Violence of the new Rwandan regime’ case study is describing the difficulties and dilemmas that Médecins Sans Frontières faced in 1994 and 1995 when confronted with the abuses and crimes of the new regime that had taken over in Rwanda in July 1994: Was it acceptable for MSF, having denounced the génocidaires’control over the Rwandan refugees in Zaire and Tanzania, to encourage the return of these refugees to Rwanda, given the insecurity that potentially awaited them? Did MSF have a responsibility to alert them to what was occurring in Rwanda?

The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-Congo: 1996-1997

The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-Congo: 1996-1997

The ‘Hunting and killings of the Rwandan refugee in Zaire/Congo’ case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas faced by Médecins Sans Frontières’ teams in 1996 and 1997 when trying to bring assistance to the Rwandan refugees in Eastern Zaire, after their camps had been attacked by the rebel forces supported by the Rwandan army: could MSF extrapolate from the little known conditions of these refugees and their health needs to speak out about their presumed current plight, despite the fact that it had no access to them?