The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Friday held a commemoration event in honour of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. They paid tribute to eleven of its employees who were killed during the Genocide.
They expressed solidarity with Rwandans, and in particular the families of the staff members who perished, observing a moment of silence to honour the memory of all who lost their lives and others who suffered and continue to grieve.
“We remember to honour the memory of all of those who lost their lives during one of history’s darkest times. We remember, to offer comfort to those families who survived. And we remember to commit ourselves to create and live in a peaceful environment free from discrimination,” Saber Azam, UNHCR Representative to Rwanda, said in a statement.
Twenty-three years later, UNHCR and the Government are supporting thousands of Rwandans who fled during the Genocide to return home, after years in exile, to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.
UNHCR staff whose lives were tragically cut short during the Genocide included Thepohile Rutagengwa, Francois Rutayigirwa, Anicet Senjenje, Marcel Twagirayezu, Gaspard Gashagaza, Francois Gasana, Jean Baptiste Gisa, Odette Mukashefu, Albert Mwigishwa, Jean Nyakagaragu and Sixbert Rugema.
At the ceremony in Kigali, Azam said that the humanitarian community will always remember the victims.
“We will honour them every day in everything we do. And today we pay special respect to them.”
The importance of the theme of this year’s genocide commemoration period (remember the Genocide against the Tutsi, fight genocide ideology – build on our progress), was highlighted during the ceremony.
“The best way to pay tribute to our beloved colleagues is to show respect for all persons equally, without distinction whatsoever of ethnicity, race, gender or other personal status,” said Azam, referring to the UNHCR Code of Conduct which contains provisions relating to freedom from discrimination.
“We will strive to remove all barriers to equality as part of our effort to ensure that what took place in Rwanda 23 years ago never happens again.”