The Humanitarian Times

March 7, 2000


- TUTSI ASSASINATION TEAM MAY HAVE TRIGGERED RWANDAN GENOCIDE. The Canadian newspaper, National Post, reported March 1 that the UN war crimes prosecutors have had testimony, which they did not pursue because it exceeded their mandate, that in 1994 the then-Uganda-based largely- Tutsi RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) killed Presidents Habyarimana (Rwanda) & Ntaryamira (Burundi) by shooting down the airplane in 1994, an event that ignited war, genocidal killings & mass displacement.

According to Tutsi informants to the UN, the RPF assassination team used 2 US-acquired surface-to-air-missiles (SA 16s) left over from the Iraq conflict. The Toronto paper refers also to the Gersony report, commissioned & then buried by the UN, that gave evidence that the RPF killed up to 45,000 people during its invasion May-July '94. See:


- CHINA'S HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES GETTING WORSE IN SEVERAL ASSESSMENTS, including last weeks' visit to China by UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, who urged China's leaders to ratify both Intl Covenants it had signed: Civil & Political Rights, & Economic, Social & Cultural Rights. Amnesty Intl reports that 2/3 of all death-penalty executions worldwide in 1998 occurred in China, that "torture remained endemic" in 1999 & called attention to China's crackdown of Uighur nationalists in Xinjiang (west) Autonomous Reg. Human Rights Watch urged the UN Commission on Human Rights (annual meeting March 20) to censure China for its "nationally orchestrated campaign" to shut down voices of opposition, plus suppression of Tibetan Buddhism. In its new human rights review of 1999, the US Dept. of State says China's rights record "deteriorated markedly throughout the year" including further restrictions on freedom of religion & speech.

-FLOOD EMERGENCIES IN MADAGASCAR, ZIMBABWE, BOTSWANA, SWAZILAND & MOZ. which destroyed homes & livelihood, now require chlorine, water-storage bladders, assistance rehabilitating boreholes, pumping & drainage systems, electricity generators, road repair, household goods (kitchen utensils) & resettlement materials (construction, seeds). The govt of Madagascar claims 600,000 have been displaced from coastal cities & villages in flooding from the recent heavy rains. Zimbabwe appeals for emergency aid for 25,000 homeless in Manicland, Masvingo, Midlands & Matabeleland provinces. In Mozambique, flood relief coordination centers in Maputo & Beira observe that Save, Umbeluzi, Incomati & Buzi water levels have fallen, while the Limpopo River remains high.

The South African Defense Force tallies that search & rescue has saved over 14,000 persons, including 1,100 by Malawi's 2 helicopters.

Beginning today, tropical storm Gloria will drop up to 2 more inches of rain on S. Mozambique, E. Zimbabwe & S. Africa.

- SEMI-BUOYANT PLASTIC LANDMINES IN MOZAMBIQUE MOVED MILES BY FLOODS to new locations, increasing casualty risk. Extensive surveys (Level-1), which had demarcated mined areas to be avoided, are now inaccurate.

- REFUGEE POP. IN W. TANZANIA NOW NEARS 700,000 FROM BURUNDI & CONGO; Tanzania's govt. declared existing camps closed to new registrants & assigned land for new, 10th, camp in Kigoma. The large Rwandan refugee population in the region was forcibly repatriated in 1996, but has since been replaced as the conflict shifted west to Zaire. AFP reports that 5 Rwandans who recently sought political asylum in Tanzania & Burundi were forcibly returned & are now in jail.

- 45-YEAR PRISON TERM FOR GENERAL WHO PLANNED BOSNIA ETHNIC CLEANSING is first for high-level military officer by the Intl. Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Croatian General Tihomir Blaskic was found guilty of organizing pre-meditated killings of Muslims in Central Bosnia in 1993.


- STATE ECONOMIC POLICIES (BUSINESS WITH BURMA JUNTA) CHALLENGED last month when the US govt. argued against the State of Massachusetts' right to sanction companies doing business in Burma.




- "DELIVER US FROM EVIL:PEACEKEEPERS, WARLORDS & A WORLD OF ENDLESS CONFLICT" by William Shawcross (2000, NY: Simon & Schuster) replaces his earlier masterpiece, "The Quality of Mercy", as the most important book on humanitarian action published. Both "The Quality of Mercy" & "Deliver Us From Evil" chronicle the physical challenges & moral conundrums that modern conflicts & famine pose for agencies involved in relief, peacekeeping, repatriation, elections & reconstruction. In "Deliver" Shawcross tells the stories of intervention in Cambodia, Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, Zaire, Iraq, Algeria, Morocco, Kosovo, E Timor, & other crises as they unfolded in the 1990s, drawing out the larger patterns of intl. response to humanitarian crises. While including tremendous detail about complex emergencies, the author, more importantly, tells the stories of how decisions were taken at each of different points of response: NGOs, UN peacekeeping forces, & western govts. His evidence includes original interviews with key figures such as Kofi Annan. Shawcross' coverage is balanced & fair but also delivers biting insights. For example, Shawcross observes that when the UN Dept. of Humanitarian Affairs was 1st created, "UNHCR... strenuously resisted the attempt by Boutros-Ghali to place much of its work under the umbrella of the newly created department of humanitarian affairs." Shawcross powerfully shows the arc that linked the death of US troops in Somalia in 1993, to the US withdrawal of the Harlan County peacekeeping ship from Haiti (October 1993), to the general retreat from multilateralism by the US, resulting, tragically, in the US's delaying of UN Sec. Council action to reinforce Gen. Dallaires' UNAMIR force to mitigate the Rwandan genocide. "As a result of the administration's terror of venturing too close to the Mogadishu line -- in Rwanda, where the crisis & the dangers were much greater, it helped to condemn 100,000s of people to death by genocide." In his introductory pages Shawcross gives great credit to the late Fred Cuny for many of his insights, with which Shawcross largely agrees, i.e.: "As in Biafra at the end of the 60s, in Cambodia after 1979, in Ethiopia in the mid-80s & beginning in Bosnia in the 90s, humanitarian assistance saved lives but also provided warlords with currency to expand conflict." (see also: here)


March 7, 2000 The Humanitarian Times


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