West snubs UN plea for action

IN RESPONSE to the catastrophic events in Rwanda, the United States is preparing a new humanitarian aid package - but there were no signs this weekend that other countries were willing to respond in any more direct manner to the appeal by the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for the Security Council to take 'forceful action to restore law and order'.

The UN now estimates 250,000 refugees are streaming into neighbouring Tanzania in the 'largest and fastest exodus' the UN has ever seen, and Mr Boutros-Ghali has asked the Security Council to consider sending an extensive force to end the killings.

But neither the United States nor any of the other Western powers favours such action. They recall the political and military mess that resulted in intervention in Somalia, and they believe any UN effort to end the violence between the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi tribes in Rwanda could be even more disastrous.

Earlier this month Mr Boutros-Ghali gave the Security Council three options on its peace-keeping mission in Rwanda: send in a large force, leave a token force to distribute the humanitarian aid, or pull out altogether. Initially, the Clinton administration favoured a complete withdrawal, but was persuaded by its UN ambassador, Madeleine Albright, to back the token force. A contingent of 270 troops remains in the country.

Privately, Western diplomats say the idea of sending a larger force is simply unrealistic. Not even the non-aligned countries have been prepared to provide troops for such a risky mission. Mr Boutros- Ghali's report made the member states even more nervous. He told the Security Council that 'a new complication' is that both the Tutsi rebels and the Hutu government forces have grown suspicious of the impartiality of the UN peace- keeping mission and are refusing to co-operate.

In his letter, the Secretary- General added that there is 'strong evidence of preparations for further massacres of civilians and there are several large concentrations of civilians who fear for their lives but enjoy little effective protection. Massacres continue on a large scale in the countryside'.

UN officials here said they had received reports from neighbouring Burundi of massacres in the north of that country, suggesting the tribal fighting may be spreading into Burundi, which also has a long history of conflict between its own Hutus and Tutsis.

This weekened, the US has sent a State Department official from Tanzania to the Rwandan border to evaluate the situation. In Washington, officials are preparing a renewed humanitarian effort to cope with the flow of refugees - C-130 transport aircraft are ready to fly relief supplies into Tanzania. Whether the US offers direct aid depends on the report from the border, officials said.

The number of refugees was expected by the Red Cross to swell to half a million. The UN refugee agency in Geneva reported columns more than five miles long at the border with Tanzania. The agency said it had food and medical supplies, including blankets and tents, sufficient for 50,000.

Through their subdued response to the Secretary-General's appeal, the Western powers again face the charge of considering white lives - as in Bosnia - more precious than black. But the UN troops were sent to Rwanda as part of an effort by the former colonial power, Belgium, to resolve the crisis. Even if the Security Council had voted to enlarge the blue helmet force, the UN would not have been able to move fast enough to prevent the violence.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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
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: 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...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

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
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there