Letter: The killing in Rwanda

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The Independent Online
Sir: In an otherwise excellent piece on the UN Security Council's long-overdue plans for Rwanda ('Don't blame the UN for an American mess', 18 May), Richard Dowden suggests that Oxfam believes 'the killing could be stopped by the arrival of UN troops'. Oxfam's view is that some (not all) of the killings could be stopped by UN troops.

There are two wars going on in Rwanda. An end to the civil war between the government of Rwanda and the Rwandan Patriotic Front will be achieved only with the consent of both sides. However, swift action by the UN would help to protect innocent civilians from mass slaughter at the hands of the militias - the perpetrators of Rwanda's second war. This level of protection would not be feasible in all areas, but it would be in some, saving thousands of lives.

Oxfam welcomes the UN Security Council's decision, but shares your correspondent's concerns over the delays and the scale of the response. The wording of UN Resolution 918 casts doubt on when, indeed whether, the Security Council will send more than 500 further troops and 150 military advisers to protect civilians and humanitarian aid.

Yours faithfully,


Africa Director



18 May