At the beginning of May 1994 the level of killings of Tutsi in Rwanda was grossly intense and there seemed no immediate plan from anyone to stop the systematic massacres.
Linda Melvern, the author of ‘A people Betrayed’ a new updated edition; she recollects in chapter sixteen how the world shut the door on Rwanda.
She writes that a Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF) Doctor, Jean-Herve Bradol, flew from Kigali to France and was later hosted on a French Television on May 16th – where he said that the deaths in Rwanda were not a civil war but a deliberate and planned extermination.
The newscaster, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, seemingly surprised, ended the interview describing what was happening in Rwanda as ‘Veritable genocide’.
Two days later the MSF-France slotted an open letter to the French President in the Le Monde newspaper, Francois Mitterrand pointing out that the doctors could not stop genocide; “France must take action immediately to protect the population of Rwanda.”
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN mission in Rwanda had communicated to the UN headquarters in New York a detailed plan to protect the sites where 756,000 people were sheltering.
The General had been told thereafter that an informal meeting of the Security Council, the UK ambassador had insisted that before any resolution to address Rwanda’s humanitarian emergency, there had to be a formal document and a budget.
Very disturbed General Dallaire sent a cable back to the UN headquarters insisting that the trapped people needed urgent protection. He suggested that rather than waiting, and losing time, the paperwork could be done afterwards.
In his improvised rescue plan, the UN mission commander in Rwanda had proposed that the Security Council allows the airlifting of a standing brigade of 5500 well-armed and trained soldiers into Kigali and this operation would be named UNAMIR II.
According to Gen. Dallaire, this UNAMIR II would be supported by air power of 16 attack helicopters and specialized teams of military and civilian police.
In his understanding, the speed of deployment of these troops would be key to the success of the intended mission. There was no time wastage because hundreds of thousands of trapped people needed to be rescued and others protected.
During the time UNAMIR force had been reduced, 800 soldiers of the Ghanaian battalion had been evacuated to Nairobi and these would be the first to arrive in Kigali if the Security Council would quickly endorse UNAMIR II.
But at this moment UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros- Ghali was not taking any action as he had to wait for directives from the United States President.
The US government at the time argued that the plan for Rwanda as provided for by Gen. Dallaire was inadequate and lacking in field assessments.
The US Ambassador, Madeline Albright, also championed this presidential directive which was also in support of the UK position.
According to them, the Rwandan plan needed to reflect more detailed preparations, a clear concept of operations, a break down in costs and an idea of duration of mandate.
Boutros- Ghali was openly critical of the Security Council for ‘shocking behaviour’ and for meekly following the US government in denying the reality of the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda.
He later wrote that the blame for inaction over Rwanda rested with the United States government because they were prevailing upon other governments to withhold relatively trivial sums to stop genocide.
In trying to find other means to intervene in the Rwandan situation, Melvern writes that throughout May in 1994, the UNs Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) was determined to obtain troops and military equipment for Rwanda.
Gen. Dallaire argued that if there were armoured Personnel carriers (APCs), then the nearby Ghanaian 800 troops stationed in Nairobi would easily come to Kigali.
The DPKO had sent urgent requests for APCs to 44 UN member states with spare military capacity.
After noticing this kind of move, the United States government had its own suggestion. On May 28, a call came from Pentagon saying the USA had 48 APCs stored at its base in Germany.
“If the UN wants them, they can be released for U$4million,” a pentagon official told the DPKO. And by the way the US owed the UN more than U$1billion in back dues.
This was the only offer and so negotiations started in order to move this consignment of APCs from German.
UN agreed to this deal of writing off U$4million from what the US owed them. The pentagon insisted that only when the lease was signed could the transport of the equipment begin and that it would take two weeks to get the APCs to Entebbe Airport, Uganda.
Pentagon organized its own transport from the storage location in Germany to Uganda.
The Americans told the UN that they would charge an extra U$6million for transportation.
The massive consignment of these war machines was delivered at a hanger on Entebbe airport because it was according to the pentagon the nearest biggest compared to others bases in the region.
When the equipment arrived at Entebbe, there were no heavy machine guns or radios, rendering them useless in terms of self-defence capability.
Analysts said this was a big shame to the United Nations for exhibiting high levels of incompetence and waste in its procurement of equipment.
It was discovered later that a private contractor would have delivered the same consignment from Germany to Uganda at a much smaller fee.
Up to August in 1994, a month after the Rwanda Patriotic Front Army had stopped the Genocide; the useless APCs were still stuck at Entebbe airport because there were also no trucks large enough to transport them to Rwanda.
Then gobbledygook was the UK offered 50 Bedford trucks but the cash for their lease had to be paid upfront by the UN.
It was weeks before they arrived and Gen. Dalliare described the trucks as only fit for museum.