UN stalls as 500,000 flee Rwanda terror

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THE United Nations dithered and aid agencies struggled yesterday to deal with an overwhelming tide of refugees leaving Rwanda, where some 200,000 people have been slaughtered in the last few weeks of bloody civil war.

The number of refugees was expected by the Red Cross to swell to 500,000, in what is being described as 'the largest and fastest' exodus that aid officials have ever seen.

In New York, the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali put the Security Council in a quandary by proposing an armed force to end the massacres in the central African nation. But there are no signs that any country is willing to send forces to intervene in a war of almost baffling savagery.

Aid agencies are sending emergency supplies to the wet, cold and muddy northwestern Tanzanian district of Ngara, where many of the refugees are reported to have been mutilated by machete blows. Most of them are from the minority Tutsi tribe, who began crossing into Tanzania when Rwandan army troops abandoned the Rusumo border post. Last night the border was reported closed again after rebels gained control of Kibungo province.

The carnage appears to be a deliberate policy by the Hutu- dominated government in Rwanda to empty the country of all Tutsis. One Rwandan radio station, Milles Collines, has declared 5 May the target date to 'clean up' the Tutsi minority, according to a US human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch/Africa. In the Kigera district of Tanzania, Oxfam staff told the Independent on Sunday, up to 180 dead bodies an hour have been counted in just one of the rivers flowing out of Rwanda.

Mr Boutros-Ghali said massacres continued, especially in the south, adding to the toll of at least 200,000 who have died since the Rwandan and Burundian presidents were killed in a rocket attack on their plane at Kigali airport on 6 April.

Diplomatic sources said two Ilyushins loaded with arms and ammunition landed at Goma on the Rwanda-Zaire border. The arms, provided by Belgrade-based arms dealers, for the use of the Rwandan army against the Tutsi rebels, were driven across the border in trucks towards Kigali.

There are ominous signs that the tribal violence is about to engulf Burundi. Hundreds of civilians, waving white flags, have fled shelling early on Friday of the main Hutu stronghold in the capital of Burundi after the expiry of a government ultimatum to militias to hand in their weapons.

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