Facing Genocide: The Record of the Belgian Battalion in Rwanda

Journal article

Suhrke, Astri (1998) Facing Genocide: The Record of the Belgian Battalion in Rwanda, Security Dialogue 29 (1): 37–48.

The author sheds light on the genocide in Rwanda of April 1994. She presents a dramatic account of events on the ground, using mainly the log book of the Belgian UN battalion, at half strength with only 450 men. It recounts their thin deployment in Kigali and vivid impotence in the face of the bloody and planned lawlessness that followed the assassination of Rwanda's President Habyarimana. Ten Belgian soldiers were killed in the chaos, and the operation of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda in largely diplomatic mode was sadly costly in human terms. In addition, the battalion's mission was both ill-defined and complicated by the task of evacuating expatriates while also trying to protect Rwandans. It was an acutely bitter battalion that returned to Belgium. This episode raises question marks as to the viability of the logic of the 'power of limited presence' of the UN force.

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