December 13, 2007

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(refugees hiding out in an abandoned Catholic Mission)

War in the Congo is threatening to erupt again a fighting between rebel Tutsis and the government forces flare. The disatrous war in the Congo was a direct result of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Refugees, including Hutu rebels who partook in the genocide of the Tutsis, feld to the Congo. The region was destabalized as aid was exploited by Hutu militias while civilias received little. In 1996, the most intense war Africa has seen to date–claiming more lives than WWII–began.

 We are still dealing with the the ripple effect of the Rwandan genocide in the Congo. Activist, policy makers, and aid workers must keep such “ripple effects” in mind with the Darfur genocide as refugees flood Chad and the Central African Republic.

 Just a few thoughts for the blog while I am here in Ghana. Not much time for more. Please post thoughts and interesting finds!

 Katie

Rwanda
October 5, 2007

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Serving in Rwanda during 1993-94 as UN Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire and his small peacekeeping force found themselves abandoned by the world’s major powers in a vortex of civil war and genocide. At a presentation following his return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked Dallaire how, after all he had seen and experienced, he could still believe in God. He answered, I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil.

I’m currently reading Dallaire’s account entitled Shake Hands with the Devil: The failure of humanity in Rwanda. The following is a journal entry I wrote after spending the better part of a day entrenched in its pages:

 

It happened in a moment. I looked up from my book, and as I did so Rwanda spun away from me. Another world rushed forward slamming into my view, knocking me off balance. A violent image of rape instantaneously replaced by a chatty couple. My mind teetered between Rwanda and Dupont as my eyes tried quick to play catch up. Where was reality? Dallaire:

As I said goodbye to Beth and the bustling city of Nairobi, I was caught in an emotional mental battle that pitted what I now consider the “real” world–genocide in Rwanda–and the “artificial” world–the detachment and obtuseness of the rich and powerful.

But I was holding a book. And still–as I read the genocide, images of Dupont don’t enter the pages, but when I look up at my surroundings Rwanda creeps in. I slid my focus back to the page. Dallaire: “Perhaps it was a symptom of how far gone I was that I was glad to be back.”

Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire is the highest-ranking military officer ever to suffer openly with post-traumatic stress disorder, making him a moral example for citizens of conscience and militaries worldwide.

Katie Orlemanski