The Rwandan Genocide was the slaughter of an estimated 1 million Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, during a period of 100 days from 7th April to 16th July 1994.

The genocide had been in planning for a number of years, and was mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, against Tutsi and some moderate Hutus across Rwanda. Nowhere was left unaffected.

For many, the Rwandan Genocide stands out as historically significant, not only because of the sheer number of people that were murdered in such a short period of time, but also because of the way many Western countries responded to the atrocities. Despite intelligence provided before the killing began, and international news media coverage reflecting the true scale of violence as the genocide unfolded, virtually all first-world countries declined to intervene.

The United Nations refused to authorise its peacekeeping operation in Rwanda at the time to take action to bring the killing to a halt. Despite numerous pre and present-conflict warnings by Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, the UN peacekeepers on the ground were forbidden from engaging the militias or even discharging their weapons.

In the weeks prior to the attacks, the UN ignored reports of Hutu militias amassing weapons and rejected plans for a pre-emptive interdiction. It has been claimed that this failure to act became the focus of bitter recriminations towards individual policymakers, such as Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, as well as the United Nations and countries such as France and the United States more generally and President Clinton specifically. It has also been suggested that Clinton was kept informed on a daily basis by his closest advisors and by the U.S. Embassy of Rwanda.

The genocide was brought to anend only when the Tutsi-dominated expatriate movement known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by General Paul Kagame, overthrew the Hutu government and seized power. Trying to escape accountability, hundreds of thousands of Hutu “genocidaires” and their accomplices fled into eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).

The violence and its memory continue to affect the country and the region.

There is further information and resources on the genocide at An Educator’s Guide to the Rwandan Genocide (as recommended by students of the Logos Charter School).