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At UN's Rwanda Genocide Commemoration, Questions of FDLR, Darfur and UNDP's Mbarushimana

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 --  While the 14th anniversary of the start of the genocide in Rwanda was commemorated Monday at UN headquarters, the issues raised are not over. In Eastern Congo, the ex-FAR Interahamwe FDLRs are being encouraged by the UN to disarm and return to Rwanda. At Monday's UN event, Inner City Press asked Rwanda's Ambassador to the UN Joseph Nsengimana what will happen with the FDLR fighters who return. They must come back without arms, he said. Then they will be treated like any Rwandan citizen. Does this mean that a form of amnesty is being granted, even to those who participated in the genocide?

   Tanzania's Ambassador Augustine Mahiga spoke at the event, on behalf of the African Union, and said that in Liberia, too, he had seen "massacres go unpunished and uninvestigated." He spoke of seeing Rwandan genocidaires never separated out in the refugee camps in Bukavu in what he called, even Monday night, "eastern Zaire." By that stage, humanitarian and justice-seeking imperatives were deemed to be in conflict, needing to paralysis.

    The UN's role in Rwanda in 1994 is not only one of inaction. UN Development Program staffer Callixte Mbarushimana "lent vehicles and satellite telephones of the UNDP to military officers, that he also used the UNDP vehicles to facilitate his own contribution to the killings," as stated in an article on the UN's own DR Congo websiteAnother UN documents recites his role in "the death of UNDP’s National Personnel Officer, Ms. Florence Ngirumpatse, and a number of refugees in the residence where they had taken refuge."

  After the 100 days of killing, Mbarushimana was allowed to continue working for the UN for seven more years, for example (as recited in the course of the UN's process leading to an additional payment of $35,000 to Mbarushimana) "from December 1996 to December 1999, he was with UNDP-Luanda, Angola." As noted in a more detailed account, Mbarushimana wan't even language-qualified for this UNDP post.  We hope to have more on this.

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda meets,
Mbarushimana not shown

            Inner City Press asked Rwandan Ambassador Nsengimana about Mbarushimana's case. "The UN's awareness came very late," he said. In fact, the UN has yet to answer when it knew what it came to know about Mbarushimana, and what actions if any it took on what it knew.  Now after repeated extradition requests from Rwanda, Mbarushimana is under investigation in France.

            There did not appear to be an French representation at Monday's Rwanda genocide memorial, held in the two-storied Delegates' Entrance lobby. Sudan's Ambassador was present, and took umbrage when the final speaker linked Rwanda's genocide with more recent events in Darfur. Afterwards, he told Inner City Press, Rwandan Ambassador Nsengimana apologized to him for the comments. Never again?

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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