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UN compares Syria and Rwanda

February 28, 2014

In events to mark the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the UN Secretary General has drawn parallels with present-day Syria. He called the international community's failure to prevent atrocities "a shameful indictment."

Ban Ki-moon UN Generalsekretär Treffen Sicherheitsrat Zentralafrikanische Republik
Image: picture alliance/Photoshot

UN chief Ban Ki-moon spoke at the New York launch of "Kwibuka 20," a series of events to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide - a 100-day slaughter, in which an estimated 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate members of the Hutu majority were killed by Hutu extremists.

"The Rwandan genocide was an epic failure of the international community to take action in the face of atrocity crimes," said the UN Secretary General. "We know more keenly than ever that genocide is not a single event, but a process that evolves over time."

Rwanda's genocide began hours after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down as it approached the capital, Kigali, in April,1994. The United Nations had a small peacekeeping force in Rwanda but the Security Council did not approve the sending of further troops.

Ban drew a parallel Thursday between Syria's civil war and the Rwandan genocide, describing both conflicts as gross failures of the international community to stop deadly wrongdoing: "Our collective failure to prevent atrocities in Syria over the past three years is a shameful indictment of the international community," he said.

He also pointed to "grave and blatant" human rights violations in the Central African Republic.

Last week, Ban called for 3,000 extra troops and police to be deployed to support the African Union's 6,000 peacekeepers in Central Africa. There are 1,600 French troops already in the region and the European Union is to send a further 500.

jm/ccp (AP, dpa, AFP)