All Case Studies > The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-Congo
Constraints and dilemmas in assisting Rwandan refugees in Eastern Zaire
The ‘Hunting and killings of the Rwandan refugee in Zaire/Congo’ case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas faced by Médecins Sans Frontières’ teams in 1996 and 1997 when trying to bring assistance to the Rwandan refugees in Eastern Zaire, after their camps had been attacked by the rebel forces supported by the Rwandan army.
Several questions and dilemmas were posed:
- Could MSF extrapolate from the little known conditions of these refugees and their health needs to speak out about their presumed current plight, despite the fact that it had no access to them
- Conversely, given lack of access, should MSF refrain from making predictions?
- Is it wise for a humanitarian organisation to predict the worst?
- Given that MSF was being used to lure refugees from hiding, should the organisation cease activities in the area or pursue them, condemning manipulation in the hope of preventing massacres – but at the risk of endangering its teams and other operations in the region?
- Should MSF call for the refugees to remain in eastern Zaire, with its deadly dangers, or participate in their forced repatriation to Rwanda, where their security was not guaranteed either?