The killing of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on 6 April unleashed a massive wave of violence in Rwanda in which it is reported that up to 20,000 people have been killed. The Government is appalled at the atrocities that have been committed and is deeply concerned at the continuation of the violence. The Security Council of the United Nations has held consultations on Rwanda and is making every effort to facilitate the immediate ceasefire it has called for. The Council has welcomed the willingness of the Organisation of African Unity to promote a ceasefire in Rwanda.
The UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) was established in October last year to assist and monitor a peace agreement reached in Arusha between the Government and the Rwanda Patriotic Front. UNAMIR has a force strength of 2,500 military personnel. The structure and mandate of the force is currently under review by the Security Council which is expected to consider shortly the recommendations of the force commander.
The Government has already expressed its sorrow to the Belgian Government at the brutal killing of ten Belgian military personnel serving with UNAMIR, and I am sure the House would wish to join in this.
The violence and chaos in Rwanda have prompted the forced evacuation of almost all members of the international community, including eight Irish citizens. I wish to thank our partners in the European Union, and in particular the Governments of Belgium and France, for their help.
Ireland and the other members of the European Union have appealed to the opposing forces in Rwanda to bring the violence to an end and to resume negotiations on the basis of the principles in the Arusha agreement. We will continue to support the efforts being made by the UN, by the Organisation of African Unity, and by the European Union to bring about an immediate ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table.