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
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

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor