Leading article: Ominous echoes of genocide

Share
Related Topics

We have been here before. There is a disturbing déjà vu to the reports of thousands of refugees on the move with their mattresses and cooking pots in the border area between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This latest outbreak of fighting follows a familiar pattern, for it has its roots in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which a minority of Hutus massacred 500,000 Tutsi in Rwanda under a Hutu-dominated military government. When that regime was ousted by a Tutsi force, two million Hutus, fearing reprisals, fled into eastern Congo, where large numbers remain. The area has, in the years since, remained a powder keg in which the two ethnic groups have co-existed uneasily, with frequent outbursts of violence. What makes all this worse is that the Rwandan government gives covert support to Tutsi militias which are in open revolt against the Congolese government. Conversely, the DRC government gives succour to the Hutu militias that oppose them. The two capitals deny this, but the truth is plain enough in an area which is rich in gold, coltan and other minerals.

The Congo, which is as big as Europe, is home to the world's largest peacekeeping force of 17,000 United Nations troops. There have been calls, by the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo and within the UN, for more troops to be sent. That is not the answer in a country which once absorbed armies from Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and Chad to no avail in a conflict which has cost five times as many lives as the Rwandan genocide. The UN troops are often ineffectual, occasionally finding themselves stoned by locals frustrated by their ineffectiveness against the militias.

The UN Secretary General has sent envoys to the presidents of both the DRC and Rwanda. What they need to press for is round-table talks which involve not just both governments but also both rebel militia forces, something the DRC has until now opposed.

The international community, and most particularly the African Union, needs to push for face-to-face talks between the four parties. It failed to act early enough in 1994, and it must not make the same mistake again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

£250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

Year 3 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 Teachers - Chelm...

ABAP Developer

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ampersand Consulting LLP: SAP ABAP Developer - Rugb...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Hislop the Younger, by-election polling and all about the olden days

John Rentoul
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to 'adapt and survive'

Nigel Edwards
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?