US could have saved 300,000 Tutsis in Genocide – Clinton

As the nation prepares to mark 19 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi, next month, former US president Bill Clinton has, once again, regretted his country’s failure to stop the massacre that claimed more than one million lives.
Bill Clinton, former US President.
Bill Clinton, former US President.

As the nation prepares to mark 19 years since the Genocide against the Tutsi, next month, former US president Bill Clinton has, once again, regretted his country’s failure to stop the massacre that claimed more than one million lives.

Clinton yesterday said if the US had intervened in Rwanda during the Genocide, at least one-third or roughly 300,000 lives could have been saved.

The former president of the world’s superpower made the remarks during a televised show, “CNBC Meets,” hosted by famous TV personality Tania Bryer.

Clinton was the sitting president during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

This is, however, not the first time he is sounding remorseful of his government’s failure in Rwanda. On March 25, 1998, during his first visit to Rwanda, Clinton, who was still in the White House, apologised “for not having acted to stop the Genocide.”

“The international community, together with nations in Africa, must bear its share of responsibility for this tragedy. We did not act quickly enough after the killing began,” Clinton said from Kigali International Airport then.

“We should not have allowed the refugee camps to become safe havens for the killers. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: Genocide. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our power to help you build a future without fear, and full of hope.”

The refugee camps he meant were those in eastern DR Congo, where the militiamen, supplied with humanitarian aid, continued to regroup in their quest to attack the country and “finish the undone business”–massacring the remaining Tutsis.

Yesterday, Clinton said the US did not have the same presence in Africa in 1994 that it does now, if he had sent around 10,000 troops into the country, thousands of lives could have been spared, he believes.

Analysts say one of the reasons the US ignored what was going on in Rwanda was because they had lost a number of their soldiers in Somalia in the early 1990s.

Righting mistakes


Clinton said the failure by his administration to act during the Genocide was one of the reasons behind the founding of the Clinton Foundation.

The Foundation is involved in several activities in Rwanda ranging from agriculture to health where a capacity building drive will see top dons in elite US universities come to Rwanda to train local medics.

Of the Foundation’s goals, Clinton said, “I want people to revel in our diversity and respect it without thinking that we have to refer to each other in negative terms. That is, I can be proud of my heritage without dismissing yours.”

President Clinton was once on record on CNN saying his biggest regret as president was not to have intervened to save those lives and this terrible failure would haunt him and his wife, Hillary Clinton.

During the 18th commemoration of the Genocide, former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said her government was committed to working with the Rwandan government toward reconciliation.

She said, “The United States stands in solidarity with the Rwandan people, and we admire their resilience and the enormous strides they have made in recovering from that unspeakable event.”

Meanwhile, the forthcoming 19th commemoration scheduled for April 7-13, will for the first time be marked at the village level, under the theme, “Let’s Remember the Genocide against Tutsis while Striving for Self-reliance.”

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