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Annan Praises Resilience And Dignity Of Rwandans

Annan Praises Resilience And Dignity Of Rwandans In Recovering From Genocide

Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today paid tribute to the resilience and dignity shown by Rwandans in recovering from their national trauma, and voiced regret over the international community's failure to stop the bloodshed.

Rwanda has much to show the world about confronting the legacy of the past, and is demonstrating that it is possible to reach beyond tragedy and rekindle hope," he said in a message delivered by his Special Adviser on Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, to a memorial ceremony in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Reflecting on the decade since the genocide, Mr. Annan, who was in charge of UN peacekeeping in 1994, said the painful memories of that era had influenced his thinking since and questioned whether the international community had learned from the experience.

"Confronted by a new Rwanda today, could and would governments respond effectively, in good time? We can by no means be certain this would happen," he said.

As Mr. Gambari delivered the Secretary-General's message in Kigali, Mr. Annan himself unveiled a UN system-wide Action Plan to Prevent Genocide at a meeting of the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

"The Plan is meant to bring to bear the weight of the international community - to prevent the armed conflicts that are the primary settings in which genocide occurs; to protect civilians, and especially minorities, who are the primary targets; to end impunity, through robust judicial systems, both national and international; and finally, to improve early warning, in order to recognize the signs of approaching genocide," Mr. Gambari explained to those present in Kigali.

Looking to the future, he added that the UN is doing what it can to help Rwandans, especially the young generation, build a new society together, by providing assistance with clearing mines, repatriating refugees, rehabilitating clinics and schools, and building up the judicial system.

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