Hutus prepare to welcome French
Tuesday 28 June 1994
In the town of Gikongoro, 115km (70 miles) east of the French base at Cyangugu and just 20km (12 miles) from the battlefront, hundreds of Hutus had been summoned by the local prefect, Laurent Bucyibaruta, to fine-tune the welcome they are preparing for France's special forces.
French tricolours were flapping from bicycles, trucks and cars, and the crowd brandished placards neatly printed with slogans. 'Down with Museveni', 'Vive la co- operation Franco-Rwandaise', 'Mitterrand, Mobutu - bravo'.
Although local officials insist they only want the French to help them deal with the 200,000 displaced Hutus who have poured into the district, it is clear that residents here are counting on the French to halt the RPF drive west.
The atmosphere in this district is more tense than in Cyangugu, where the French are currently deployed. On the main highway the Rwandan army and Hutu militias have set up roadblocks every few kilometres. In a field by the road soldiers in camouflage were practising marching in unison.
The deep forest of Nyungwe separates Gikorongo from 'Operation Turquoise', but the French say it is their firm intention to penetrate into this part of the country. On Monday a French Puma helicopter was already flying overhead, reconnoitring the region.
Gikongoro is Rwanda's least fertile district, and the arrival of 200,000 displaced people has put an enormous strain on the local population of 450,000, already hit by last year's drought and poor harvest.
Western non-governmental organisations abandoned the area, which also holds 17,000 Burundi refugees, when the civil war broke out in April.
'The displaced have no food, so the local population must feed them. There's not enough to go round as it is, and now we must share,' Mr Bucyibaruta says. 'The schools are full of displaced people, so teaching has stopped, and we're beginning to see sanitation problems. If this war continues we simply don't know where everyone will go.'
- 1 Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
- 2 Lisa Randolph-Gant: Queen Elsa cake maker says she will carry on baking and will not let people 'break her spirit'
- 3 Tube strike: This pedestrian-friendly map tells you the time it takes to walk between stations
- 4 Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2015: Three men gored and 10 hospitalised on first day of festival
- 5 Sarah Jessica Parker explains why she is not a feminist: 'It's not just about women now'
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis: Greek future in the euro slips into deeper uncertainty as Alexis Tsipras arrives at emergency talks without a written plan
Man soars over Calgary after tying 110 balloons filled with helium to his lawn chair for PR stunt, gets arrested for mischief
Tube strike: This pedestrian-friendly map tells you the time it takes to walk between stations
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2015: Three men gored and 10 hospitalised on first day of festival
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...