MSF Speaking Out

Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995

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Constraints and dilemmas of working with ‘refugee leaders'

The 'Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire -Tanzania 1994-1995' case study is describing the constraints and dilemmas met by MSF when confronted with camps under the tight control of ‘refugee leaders' responsible for the genocide of the Rwandan Tutsis from April to June 1994.

The camps were transformed into rear bases from which the reconquest of Rwanda was sought, via a massive diversion of aid, violence, propaganda, and threats against refugees wishing to repatriate.

Several questions and dilemmas were posed:

  • Was it acceptable for MSF to assist people who had committed genocide?
  • Should MSF accept that its aid was instrumentalised by leaders who used violence against the refugees and proclaim their intention to continue the war in order to complete the genocide they had started?
  • For all that, could MSF renounce assisting a population in distress and on what basis should its arguments be founded?

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Additional materials

MAP MSF Programmes in Rwanda, Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995
MSF Programmes in Rwanda, Zaire and Tanzania 1994-1995
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