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.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice