The appalling genocide that has been taking place in Rwanda since early April 1994 is a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. In its intensity and savagery, the butchery and slaughter of the people of Rwanda has no parallels in recent history. It is difficult to believe that such horrors could take place in our time. What is happening in Rwanda before our eyes is another shameful chapter of man's inhumanity to man.
The Government has already forcefully condemned the fighting and the slaughter as an affront to everything we stand for and to the international system of order and justice for which we work. The Government is taking the most serious view of what is happening in Rwanda. In the face of such horror, we believe that the highest level of co-ordinated response is called for by the international community. Indeed, we have actively sought to bring about such action within the United Nations and the European Union.
As an instance of the Government's deep concern, Senators are aware that I intend to lead what Senator Ross calls a fact finding mission to the East African region this coming weekend to assess at first hand the political situation and the urgent humanitarian needs which have arisen as a result of the terrible events in Rwanda.
I plan to travel to Tanzania on Saturday. On Sunday, I will visit the refugee camp at Ngara which is just inside Tanzania's border with Rwanda. Over 280,000 Rwandans have fled across the border from the terror in their own country and have found refuge in the camp at Ngara. On Monday I will visit another refugee camp, this time at Karagwe, which is being run by Concern and Goal. There are over 50,000 refugees in this camp.
I will have talks with the Tanzanian Government and with representatives of the United Nations. My aim in our talks will be to convey my support for the peace efforts of the Tanzanian Government, the United Nations and the Irish aid effort. Having made an assessment of the situation on the ground, I will, on my return, urge my European Union colleagues to intensify their efforts at the political and humanitarian level to bring about an end to this terrible conflict and to ease the suffering of the people of Rwanda. This is not unusual for a Minister for Overseas Development Assistance and I have done so in the case of Sudan, which I visited to see the situation on the ground. This visit helped me convince my colleagues at a meeting of the EU Council of Development Ministers of the need for greater action. Some of the other Ministers also spoke of this need. I remember in particular the contribution of Mr. Pronk, the Minister from Holland.
As Senators will know, Tanzania is playing a crucial role in receiving the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled from Rwanda. President Mwinyi of Tanzania is playing an important mediating role in seeking to bring about a ceasefire between the warring parties in Rwanda and to end the terrible slaughter there. Tanzania is one of our priority bilateral countries. I met the Prime Minister, Mr. Malacela in the past and will meet him on this occasion if I get the opportunity to do so, but I will be meeting representatives of his Government. It is important to point out that at this level I, on behalf of the Government, hope to advance the whole process because Tanzania has a crucial role to play. I know from the number of people who have contacted me that there is public support for such a visit.
Yesterday I met with the major NGOs from this country and they would certainly support this visit. There are specific things I will do. The information I obtain from this visit — I am aware of the situation on the ground from reports — will give me added strength, especially at EU level. I outlined in the Dáil last evening the key points of Ireland's policy in the international arena towards Rwanda. Our focus has been for action at the United Nations and at European Union level.
At the United Nations we have supported a review by the UN Security Council of the size and mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR). This has now been carried out. We have supported a mission to Rwanda and neighbouring Burundi by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We have also supported a UN Security Council arms embargo on Rwanda which has now been implemented by a Security Council resolution.
At European Union level we have supported an emergency meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. This emergency meeting began yesterday and is expected to conclude late this evening. While we are not currently a member of the commission, we are attending the meeting as an observer. Our delegation has played a very active part in the European Union's contribution to the debate in Geneva today.
Some 55 delegations and NGOs have asked to speak at the emergency meeting of the commission. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights both addressed the commission. This is the first occasion that both High Commissioners appeared together at a session of the commission. The Director General of the World Health Organisation also addressed the commission. This is a clear indicator of global concern at what is happening in Rwanda.
It is likely that the commission will this evening adopt by consensus a strongly worded and comprehensive resolution on the situation of human rights in Rwanda. Ireland is co-sponsoring this resolution. This resolution will state that the killing of members of an ethnic group, with the intention of destroying such a group in whole or in part, constitutes the crime of genocide. The resolution will also state that it believes that acts of genocide may have occurred in Rwanda. It will strongly urge all parties to cease immediately any incitement to violence or ethnic hatred.
The resolution will appoint a Special Rapporteur with a broad mandate to investigate human rights abuses and breaches of international humanitarian law in Rwanda, including acts of genocide. It will also call for those responsible to be brought to justice.
The resolution will express its grave concern at the failure to date of the Rwandan authorities to condemn the ongoing massacres in the country. It will call on the Government of Rwanda to condemn publicly and take measures to put an end to all violations of human rights and international law within its jurisdiction.
It will also condemn in the strongest terms all breaches of international humanitarian law and all violations and abuses of human rights in Rwanda. It will call on parties to the conflict to ensure safe passage for those fleeing from the conflict areas, including, where necessary, to asylum countries, and to ensure the right of return under safe conditions.
I believe this resolution, when adopted this evening, will send a clear message that the world wants an end to the conflict and slaughter in Rwanda. For its part, the Government will continue to use every avenue open to it to bring an end to the conflict and to the nightmare of the people of Rwanda.