UN sees no quick truce in Rwanda

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The Independent Online
KIGALI (Reuter) - Thousands of civilians remained trapped in Rwanda's embattled capital yesterday with no truce in sight between warring foes and with the United Nations unable to evacuate or supply them.

The frustrated UN commander in Kigali, who saw no hope for a quick ceasefire in two months of renewed civil war and whose tiny force tries to protect civilians from bloodletting, said: 'People are simply killing each other very easily on both sides. I need troops, I need equipment, because without these I cannot carry out the mandate.'

General Romeo Dallaire, speaking on the eve of a fifth round of truce talks between the army and Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels, said in Nairobi: 'I do not see a breakthrough tomorrow. I would love to see a truce but I think there is still some fighting to be done. Both sides still have resources and capability to fight on.'

General Dallaire, commander of a 420-strong United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (Unamir), welcomed the Security Council's decision to reinforce his garrison but lamented that it looked all too late. He was still unsure when more troops would arrive.

The UN pulled out most of its troops in Rwanda after 10 Belgian peace-keepers were killed by government soldiers angered by the assassination of President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April. An estimated 500,000 people have been killed, mainly in ethnic massacres, in two months. Nearly two million more are homeless and thousands are trapped in hostile zones under constant fear of death. 'The refugee evacuation operation is still on hold,' said a UN military spokesman, Major Jean-Guy Plante.

Evacuations across battle lines in Kigali were halted after the RPF fired on a UN convoy carrying refugees a week ago.