KIGALI, Rwanda—After years of suppression and frustration, chaos erupted in Rwanda in the largest African genocide seen to date.
On April 6 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down just outside of Kigali. Communication between cities and the United Nations became clouded, and as word got out as to what was really going on, the various groups residing in Rwanda started pointing fingers. The Hutus blamed the Tustis, especially the current Rwandan President, Paul Kagame who was the Tutsi rebel leader at the time. However, the Tutsis also blamed Hutu extremists, arguing that this was just the first step in their plan to exterminate the Tutsi community entirely.
Even today, some 20 years after the genocide, Rwandan citizens are still shaken, recovering and piecing back together the social trust of the country. Increasing hostilities through the years and growing frustration with the economic situation in Rwanda between the two main groups were, in hindsight, the cause for this sudden gory outbreak between the Tutsis and Hutus. In total, some 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus were killed, amounting to 20 percent of the population lost in just 3 months.
Take a look at these 10 powerful photos from the Rwandan Genocide.
During the first six weeks of the Rwandan Genocide, up to 800,000 Rwandans may have been murdered, which would represent a rate of killing five times higher than that during the Holocaust.
In response to Rwandan Patriotic Front forces gaining control over most of country, more than 2 million Rwandans, nearly all Hutus, fled to refugee camps in the Congo.
The Rwandan genocide had an enduring and substantial effect on Rwanda and its neighboring countries. The pervasive use of war rape caused a spike in HIV infection and many orphaned children or widows were forced to become the head of households. Refugees reaped havoc on neighboring countries’ economies, diminishing supplies and causing overpopulation. In Rwanda, the devastation and a severe depopulation of the country paralyzed the economy, which is still rebuilding itself today, some 20 years later.
Feature Photo: International Business Times