Remembering Rwanda, 20 years on

I first became involved in Rwanda in July 1994, some two or three months after the start of the horrific events in that landlocked country, the full scale of which had not, by that time, reached the wider world.

My lasting memory of that time is the chaos of the situation.

There was a camp that was beginning to be established and some families were trying to set up home on the pitches that they had been allocated.

The sight of the new arrivals who had not yet been registered in the camp was particularly distressing: small groups of people sitting in whatever shade they could find, waiting to be called forward.

They all, invariably, looked completely traumatised: their faces were blank, expressionless, looking as if they were not even sure if they were still alive.

The few bundles of clothes or household utensils that were around them were now all of their worldly possessions.

“All of them, without exception, had a look of fear on their faces”

At one point I went down to one of the crossing points at the border – a swampy, marshy area covered in dense undergrowth.

From the way that the mud had been churned up, this had been the point that many of the people at the camp had left Rwanda.

There was still a trickle of people coming over: mothers, grandmothers, small children, but very few men of any age. Continue reading.

Sunday was the twentieth anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. Rob Rees was Africa Programme Officer for CAFOD (Caritas England and Wales) at the time.

Source: CAFOD

Image: CAFOD

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