Kigali, Rwanda -As part of the commemorations of the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the fallen 64 UN staff and their families expressing his deepest condolences to relatives and friends they left behind.
“Their names and memories will always be here – as they will in your hearts”, said the Secretary- General in a solemn ceremony held at the UNDP compound in Kigali.
The UN Secretary-General laid a wreath at a plaque erected to honor the memories of the UN staff members who were brutally killed in the genocide. He said that “We must not be left to utter the words ‘never again’, again and again”.
Over the course of 100 days (April-July 1994), an estimated one million men, women and children were killed and 250,000 women were raped.
20 years later, on April 7, Rwanda and the world commemorate one of the darkest chapters of African history.
In his own reflection, the UN Secretary-General called Kwibuka20 “A profoundly moving day of reflection, remembrance and renewal for the people of Rwanda and, indeed, the international community.”
“We honor their lives through remembrance and reflection, but also through doing everything that we can to improve protection, response, and safeguarding populations from genocide and other atrocities” he said.
The Secretary General added that one of the lessons from Rwandan genocide was a new policy obligating the UN to stay on the ground in times of trouble – and never abandoning staff when lives are threatened.
“We stick together – we stay together. That is our pledge to Rwanda and the world” he said. He also called UN staff to speak up, even if it may offend, and act whenever they see people at risk of atrocity crimes.
“Do not wait for instructions from afar. Our first duty must always be to protect people – to protect human beings in need and distress,” he emphasized.
Mr. Ban praised Rwanda’s progress saying that from despair, rises a country of hope and growing prosperity.