Brief Timeline of Events Leading to Genocide

The Arusha Peace Accords were signed in neutral Arusha, Tanzania

  • August 1993 – Amidst increasing civil unrest, the Arusha Peace Accords are signed. This agreement calls for the establishment of a transitional government, the unification of the army and the arrival of UN forces to Rwanda. At this point, Hutu Power starts broadcasting Tutsi hate messages in the media, because it is felt that the Accords favour the Tutsis

An image of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary General at the time of the Rwandan Genocide

  • September 1993 – The Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, determined that a UN peacekeeping is urgently needed in Rwanda to prevent the outbreak of civil war.

General Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of UNAMIR, wearing the blue beret of the UN

  • October 1993 – The UN peacekeeping force –  UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda) – is established and 2,500 soldiers from 23 countries are deployed. Canadian General Romeo Dallaire is appointed as Force Commander.
  • December 1993 – A guilt- ridden member of the Rwandan army sends a letter to Dallaire detailing plans to murder Tutsis to prevent the implementation of the Arusha Accords

The Interahamwe Hutu militia armed with machetes

  • January 1994 – Human Rights Watch publishes a report stating the Hutu militia in Rwanda, the Interahamwe, are arming. General Dallaire requests permission to seize arms, but he is denied.
  • March 1994 – 7 months since the signing of the Arusha Accords and they still have yet to been implemented. Boutros-Ghali recommends that the UN Security council extend the UNAMIR mandate for an additional six months.

The United Nations Security Council, circa 1994

  • 5 April 1994 – The UN Security Council grants Boutros-Ghali’s requests, but with some conditions. The UNAMIR mandate is only extended for six weeks, not six months, and it is with the provision that Arusha Accords are not signed during that time.

Wreckage of the plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntaryamira of Burundi; both were killed in the crash

  • 6 April 1994 – The aeroplane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntaryamira of Burundi is shot down, and both are killed. The immediate reaction of the Hutu majority was to blame the Tutsis. Then, the capital city of Kigali is road blocked, and 10 Belgian soldiers are shot and killed. At this point, the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus begin, with the plane crash and the death of the President being the catalyst.

The flag of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, a Tutsi rebel group

  • 8 April: The Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) launches a major offensive to end the killings and rescue 600 of its troops based in Kigali under the Arusha Accords.

Rwandan Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana; assassinated April 7th, 1994, by the Interahamwe for being sympathetic to Tutsis


  • April 1994 – The Interahamwe continue to set up roadblocks in Kigali. They start to round up all Tutsis and any moderate or sympathizing Hutus. A prime example was Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana. She and other victims are  killed, mostly with machetes, which became a dark symbol of the genocide. The UN forces are forbidden from intervening and are told to ‘monitor’ the situation, as the killings from the city-centre and into the countryside.
  • 8 April 1994 – General Dallaire sends a message to the UN headquarters describing the killings based on ethnic grounds. He related how the killings were planned, systematic and carried out by state officials. This is a key part of the path to genocide.

Victims at the Gikondo massacre of children in a church; UN paratroopers witnessed the act while evacuating expatriates but did nothing

  • 9 April 1994 – French and Belgian expatriates are evacuated from Rwanda by UN paratroopers. Those collecting the expatriates witness the massacre of children at a church in Gikondo. The troops did not stay to assist UNAMIR.
  • 10 April 1994 – The 250 US nationals and the ambassador evacuated, but still no soldier remain to help UNAMIR. At this point, captured Tutsis are used for slave labour, conducting task like to using refuse carts to pick up the bodies of those who have been murdered.
  • 11 April 1994 – A ceasefire is secured by Dallaire to facilitate the evacuation of all expatriates.

The memorial at site of the Nyange Church Massacre; former priest Athanase Seromba is serving life in prison for his part in the crime

  • 12 April 1994 – 1,500 Tutsis hiding in a Catholic church are murdered, as the Interhamwe bulldozed the building, and killed all inside by hand with machetes. The priest of the church is later convicted with crimes against humanity.

A Belgian UNAMIR participation crest

  • 14 April 1994 – Belgium withdraws its troops from UNAMIR, as the killing continues to spread.
  • 21 April 1994 – UNAMIR is reduced from 2,500 to 270 as the UN orders the removal of their troops.
  • 30 April 1994 – The UN Security Council debates the situation in Rwanda, but refuses to call it a genocide.
  • 17 May 1994 – Finally the UN sends a contingent of 5,500 troops to Rwanda, but the deployment is delayed because of arguments pertaining to who would cover the costs.

A UN soldier standing watch at Kigali Airport , 1994

  • 22 May 1994 – Kigali airport is captured by Rwandan Patriotic Front forces.

Not only did Tutsis suffer, but so did many innocent Hutus; this man was suspected by the Interahamwe of sympathizing with Tutsis

  • 25 May 1994 – A representative of the UN High Commission of Human rights is sent to Rwanda to investigate claims of human rights violations.
  • 29 May – 11 June 1994 – The RPF proceed with their mission, and capture cities and towns across Rwanda. Despite this, the massacre is not deterred.
  • 23 June 1994 – France announce their intention to send a temporary peace-keeping mission to Rwanda and on this day, the first French troops arrive to support UNAMIR under General Dallaire.
  • 1 July 1994 – The UN Security Council considers whether the events in Rwanda constitute ‘possible acts of genocide’.

French parachutists standing guard; it was the French Opération Turquoise that established the safe zone in south west Rwanda

  • 5 July 1994 – A safe zone is establish by French troops in south west Rwanda.
  • 14 July 1994 – Many people, including government officials and militia, rush to the safe zone at an astounding pace of 6,000 people per hour.

Bill Clinton`s apology in Rwanda, infamous for being short and detached, as well as for Air Force One`s engines being left running while it was being delivered

  • 17 July 1994 – The official end of the massacres .

8 thoughts on “Brief Timeline of Events Leading to Genocide

  1. Based on this information there was a lot of “do nothing” intervention on the UN’s part until it was too late. But it doesn’t surprise seeing that it was happening in Africa. Same thing with South African Apartheid! Let all of the blacks in Africa rise up against the whites, and begin slaughtering them, then we shall see how fast the UN, NATO, and all their allies come to the defense.

  2. Of course, Yes!!!!! Rwandan Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana; assassinated April 7th, 1994, by the Interahamwe for being sympathetic to Tutsis, Thank you mum for dying with love, care and sympathy.

  3. The UN is a joke, all good intentions but when it comes down to it they have no power at all to do anything against wars for land or power nor genocides like these. By the time they get a vote through ‘the council’ the conflict is already finished!

  4. Pingback: The Rwandan Genocide: Where was the rest of the World?

  5. It is interesting to note that when various member nations of the UNAMIR fled Rwanda in fear, and allowed the genocide to happen, that only one nation had the courage to remain.

    General Romeo Dallaire and the rest of the 270 Canadian Peacekeepers, who placed the importance of the lives of the Rwandan population above their own, are true heroes.

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