Dallaire the real hero of Rwandan tragedy

I read with interest Hannah McNeish’s article (Irish Examiner, April 4) which remembered the Rwandan genocide of 1994 when as many as 800,000 ethnic Tutsis were murdered by the Hutu majority.

One of the greatest tragedies is that this massacre was preventable. Canadian General Roméo Dallaire, had been given the unenviable task of commanding a small UN peace-keeping force that had been in situ in Rwanda since 1993. Early in 1994 he was aware of arms being massed by the Hutus and warned the UN that mass murder was being planned.

With catastrophic consequences his warnings went unheeded. General Dallaire was given a paltry 2,600 ill-equipped troops and provided with a UN mandate that didn’t allow him the authority to disarm the militias. He argued that with 5,000 well-equipped soldiers and a mandate that would allow him direct intervention he could prevent the tragedy that was about to unfold. To add insult to injury, when the killing started, he again pleaded for more troops but instead the UN reduced his force to a token level.

Following the killing of 10 Belgian paratroopers and the withdrawal of their remaining soldiers, Dallaire was left with but a handful of men. Against almost insurmountable odds he managed to save thousands of lives. In the aftermath of the Rwandan carnage very few in western civiliSation can hold their heads high but General Dallaire is certainly one who can.

John Bellew


Co Louth

More in this section

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd