Rwandan Genocide 1994


During the summer of 1994 ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis broke out, triggered by the assassination of the moderate Hutu president, Habyarimana, when their plane was shot down, killing all on board. On the following day, April 7th, genocidal killings began, lasting approximately 100 days resulting in the death of nearly 1,000,000 Rwandans, constituting of as many as 70% of the Tutsi population. The genocide and widespread slaughter of Rwandans ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame took control of the country.


Basis of Conflict: The genocide was triggered by ethnic conflict during an even escalating civil war, which however had its roots in a Hutu revolt against colonial rule in 1959.  

Regime Type: The regime type at the time was considered a democracy, yet the country was embroiled in a civil war, between the government in place and rebel groups for 4 years prior to the conflict.

Severity of Crisis: Although the genocide lasted for only 100 days, it resulted in the biggest lost of life through conflict since the end of the Second World War. More than 800,000 people lost their lives, and more than 2,000,000 were displaced. Furthermore, the pervasive use of rape as a weapon of war caused a spike in HIV infection, having a long lasting impact in the region after the crisis. 


The genocidal killings ending after intervention by the Tutsi backed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), under the leadership of current president Paul Kagame. During the crisis the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was present in the region, yet failed to act to prevent the massive loss of life. Only after direct foreign intervention, by the RPF, with support from Burundi, was the crisis overcome. 


The Rwandan Genocide is a prime example of the failure of the United Nation's to act in violent circumstances and of the inability or unwillingness of the international community to act in unsure situations. Following the RPF victory, approximately two million Hutu fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries, particularly Zaire, fearing RPF reprisals for the Rwandan genocide, causing a massive refugee crisis in the area.


Despite the horrors of the genocide, modern Rwanda is a prime African nation with consistently increasing economic growth and development levels. Furthermore, as in post-war Germany, the denial of genocide is a punishable offense. Finally, a great deal of historical work has been done on the topic to help further the improvement of Hutu and Tutsi relations.