US tardiness 'made genocide easier': Richard Dowden examines a catalogue of delays which prevented the world from helping Rwanda in time

THE OFFER by the United States to fly United Nations troops to Rwanda is the first glimmer of hope that a UN peace-keeping force will go to the country, even though the main war has been over for some weeks and the genocide they might have helped prevent was over two months ago.

A US State Department official confirmed yesterday that US military aircraft were being made available to fly troops from any country in the world to join a UN force in Rwanda. Lack of transport has been a crucial factor delaying the deployment of the force, Unamir, for more than two months.

US, British and French troops now appear as the saviours of Rwanda. But it was the failure of these three countries to support the UN force for Rwanda three months ago which allowed the disaster to grow to such catastrophic proportions.

Holly Burkhalter, Washington Director of Human Rights Watch/Africa, yesterday accused the US government of blocking and delaying the arrival of a UN peace-keeping force and now basking in glory by sending troops to rescue dying children. 'The US has been niggardly about peace-keeping but no one seems to worry about spending many many more times the amount of money now to save lives,' she said.

The US has committed an extra dollars 100m (pounds 66m) to the Rwanda relief budget of dollars 150m. Ms Burkhalter said that in May and June the Pentagon took three weeks to argue whether the transport of 50 armoured personnel carriers from Germany would cost dollars 5m or dollars 10m.

UN Resolution 918 setting up Unamir II was passed on 17 May, asking for 5,500 troops for Rwanda. African nations offered these but none was capable of getting them to Rwanda. They need logistical assistance and equipment. Only the US, France and Britain have that capability but none was forthcoming. When France acted in June it sent its own troops. This week they were followed by the US and the British but the prospect of Unamir II arriving to replace them was, until the US offer, as remote as ever.

Until this week there has been a force of between 300 and 500 Ghanaian troops and a handful from other countries who, under the leadership of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, have braved the three-month battle for the capital, Kigali. General Dallaire has said repeatedly that he needed more troops while the fighting and the genocide was taking place.

There have been several other factors contributing to the delay. Some African countries offering troops would not deploy them without new equipment. One country offering 800 soldiers demanded 1,200 new rifles for them. Other countries have demanded payment upfront for peace-keeping, but the UN peace-keeping budget is already dollars 2bn short.

The most important factor has been US obstructiveness, which has delayed the UN on four occasions. First, the US insisted on the reduction of the UN force in April, when the killings began. Even though they could not have stopped the war, many observers in Rwanda at the time believe that UN forces could have curbed the massacres and saved thousands of lives just by being there.

In late May and early June, when the UN was discussing strengthening the force, the US demanded a study and told the Security Council to report back in three weeks. When African countries produced 5,500 troops for the force, Washington offered trucks but dragged out negotiations with the UN, arguing over the cost of hiring and transporting them.

'Now we are seeing US troops carrying babes in arms being portrayed as saving people from genocide when the US government would not permit non-Americans to go into Rwanda to stop genocide in the first place,' said Ms Burkhalter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all