Zaire And Rwanda Essay

3911 words - 16 pages

The refugee massacre that occurred in the years between 1994 and 1996 in Zaire demonstrates a worst-case-scenario of refugee camp militarization. It is by no means a typical case of refugee warriorism, however, it does exemplify an opportunity structure that fosters an environment conducive for militarization. The massacre of refugees in Zaire stems from the Rwandan genocide of 1994 which witnessed the deaths of 200,000 to 1 million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu.2 The conflict ended in the victory of the ethnic- Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the defeat of the ethnic-Hutu Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR). Consequently, 1.72-2.1 million Hutu refugees fled the country into Burundi, Zaire, Tanzania, and Uganda.3 Dr. Emizet Kisangani in, “The massacre of refugees in Congo: a case of UN peacekeeping failure and international law,” cites that of these refugees, only 6% were ex-FAR and Hutu militia.4 Despite making a small percentage of the refugee population, these forces were able to manipulate the refugee population and humanitarian assistance to their benefit. From 1994 to 1996 the Hutu refugee warriors manipulated the refugee population, monopolized humanitarian aid, launched cross border attacks into Rwanda and committed acts of genocide against Zaire’s Tutsi population, the Banyamulenge and Banyarwanda.5 Paul Kagame, leader of the RPF, viewed the situation in Zaire as a lethal threat to the stability of the new regime in Rwanda, thus justifying the invasion.6 Attacks against the Banyamulenge and Banyarwanda were supported by Zaire’s President Mobutu Sese Seko who had formed an alliance with the ex-FAR. Meanwhile, the RPF’s militant wing, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), aligned itself with the Alliance of Democratic Force for the Liberation of Congo (ADFL), a Zairean militant faction operating in the Kivus. Eventually, the AFDL pushed to Kinshasa and toppled Mobutu’s government while the RPA invaded and cleared the refugee camps in the Kivus.7 The Rwandan army committed humanitarian atrocities as they dismantled the camps. They forced refugees back in to Rwanda by gun-point and cut off access to food.8 By May 1997, aid workers discovered that the majority of the refugee camps had completely emptied and finally after the AFDL took Kinshasa, it gave the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sixty days to repatriate any remaining (surviving) Hutu refugees.9

Tanzania and Rwanda
Like Zaire, Tanzania was severely affected by huge population influxes stemming from the situation in Rwanda. Prior the major influx in the 1990s from Rwanda and Burundi, Tanzania had an open door policy towards refugees and was a haven for asylum seekers.10 President Julius Nyerere not only encouraged an open door policy, but he also encouraged refugee warrior movements against colonial regimes. He saw refugees as vital sources of labour and also as freedom fighters. However, this changed following the end of Nyerere’s reign...

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