MSF Speaking Out

The Hunting and Killing of Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-Congo: 1996-1997

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The ‘Hunting and Killings of the Rwandan refugee in Zaire/Congo’ case study describes the constraints, questions and dilemmas faced by Médecins Sans Frontières’ teams in 1996 and 1997 as they attempted 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.

Questions and dilemmas:

  • Is it possible for MSF to publicly extrapolate from the little known conditions of refugees and their health needs 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?
  • Its team being used to lure refugees from hiding, should MSF 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, knowing they would face deadly dangers, or participate in their forced repatriation to Rwanda, where their security was not guaranteed either?

Download the case study

Additional materials

MAP MSF Programmes for Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-DRC and Congo Brazzaville, 1996-1997
 MSF Programmes for Rwandan Refugees in Zaire-DRC and Congo Brazzaville, 1996-1997
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