A Brief History

Between April and July 1994, about 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda over a period of about 100 days. On April 6, 1994, the plane of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down, and within a few hours Government soldiers and Hutu extremist civilians began killing members of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus. A brutal civil war broke out in the country due to long-standing ethnic and economic pressures, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people killed or displaced.

Unwilling to participate in what they considered a "local conflict," the international community largely stayed on the sidelines, abandoning its embassies and focusing aid efforts on evacuating foreigners from the country. Without international intervention, brutal killings went unpunished; men, women and children were brutally murdered, and families were torn apart. The conflict finally came to an end when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by the man who is now President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, took control of Kigali in July and created an interim unity government.

Reconstruction efforts in Rwanda have largely focused on reconciliation and the future. Education is key to ensuring that the world does not witness another preventable massacre, such as the Genocide in Rwanda, and to help Rwandans rise above atrocities for a better future.

To learn more about the genocide, we recommend the following books:

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda
by Philip Gourevitch, a staff writer for The New Yorker

Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
by Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who commanded the UN peacekeeping contingent stationed in Rwanda, but who was directed by his superiors, under pressure from the international powers, to do nothing

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide
by Linda Melvern, a British investigative journalist

Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
by Jean Hatzfeld

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
by Immaculee Ilibagiza

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