Views And Reviews

Rwanda after the holocaust

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 08 October 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:963
  1. S Brandon,
  2. K Craig

    We were invited by a small charity called Friends in the West to visit Rwanda to advise on a training programme for those dealing with the victims of violence. The slaughter of perhaps one million people in a war lasting only a few weeks has left Rwanda traumatised. Families have been separated as almost everyone was forced to flee, many to refugee camps. Essential services collapsed and diseases were widespread.

    The Hutu dominated government fled taking all the convertible assets; it continues to pay its soldiers in refugee camps, where they are fed by the World Food Programme and terrorise refugees who wish to return to Rwanda. The victorious, largely Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front has formed a government in Kigali, which is committed to recovery and reconciliation but has limited resources.

    * “The centre looked like a prison camp surrounded by security wire.”

    Despite all this there is an air of optimism, and the returning refugees, the opening of the markets, and the first signs of rebuilding are beginning to transform the capital. Generators are providing electricity in vital areas and the bodies have been cleared from the streets. The worst of the epidemics have been contained except in the refugee camps.

    Thousands of children have lost or been separated from their families. The government refuses to describe them as orphans, preferring the term unaccompained children, and it calls the places where they are being cared for children's centres. Many children have not yet found their …

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