Skip to main content
JUBA - 8 Apr 2014

South Sudan in ‘unfolding nightmare,’ UN chief says on Rwanda anniversary

Hilde Johnson, the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, speaking on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, says that South Sudan is in the middle of an ‘unfolding nightmare.’

The head of the peacekeeping mission while attending a commemoration event at the UN base in Juba commended the nation of Rwanda for overcoming the darkest days of its past and for sending Rwandan soldiers to take part in the UNMISS effort to protect civilians in South Sudan.

“Rwanda has been providing peacekeepers to UNMISS to help another new nation emerge out of civil war and emerge out of its own nightmares. Rwanda is now providing additional forces which are scheduled to come to Malakal in the middle of the unfolding nightmare that South Sudanese are experiencing in parts of the country, where fighting is still ongoing,” said Johnson.

She continued, “Rwanda has learnt from its past and is helping dealing with the nightmares of the present. The UN has also learnt from its past. Rwanda and the horrors of the genocide and the firestorm that erupted against the UN following its inaction led to a sea change in the response of the United Nations.” 

“Out of that experience and out of the later experience of Srebrenica we saw protection of civilians emerge as one of the most important anchors of the mandate of peacekeeping missions,” added the UNMISS chief.

“On the 15th of December in South Sudan, we saw what was a political crisis explode into violence that took an ethnic turn. We saw ethnic killings take place. We saw thousands of civilians be killed during the following weeks, we have still not seen then end of it. Rwandese soldiers have been deployed to protect civilians from this,” she concluded.

For her part, Alice Buhinja, a representative of the Rwandan community in South Sudan, said the gathering was meant to remember victims of the genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda.

She called the genocide “one of humanity’s darkest hours,” saying that the day was meant to remember those people who were brutally and needlessly killed. “This month as Rwandese this is our 20th time to commemorate those who died.”

In concluding her remarks, she stated, “Let us join together with Rwanda and say, ‘Never again,’ not in Rwanda and not anywhere else.”

A total 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the four-month killing spree in 1994 triggered by the assassination of Rwanda's Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana.

Photo: Hilde Johnson lights a candle in memory of the victims of the Rwanda genocide