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Extreme violences:

MSF experience in Rwanda

Date de publication
Jean-Hervé Bradol

Medical doctor, specialized in tropical medicine, emergency medicine and epidemiology. In 1989 he went on mission with Médecins sans Frontières for the first time, and undertook long-term missions in Uganda, Somalia and Thailand. He returned to the Paris headquarters in 1994 as a programs director. Between 1996 and 1998, he served as the director of communications, and later as director of operations until May 2000 when he was elected president of the French section of Médecins sans Frontières. He was re-elected in May 2003 and in May 2006. From 2000 to 2008, he was a member of the International Council of MSF and a member of the Board of MSF USA. He is the co-editor of "Medical innovations in humanitarian situations" (MSF, 2009) and Humanitarian Aid, Genocide and Mass Killings: Médecins Sans Frontiéres, The Rwandan Experience, 1982–97 (Manchester University Press, 2017).

Portrait de Marc Le Pape
Le Pape

Marc Le Pape has carried out research in Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Central Africa. His recent studies have focused on the Great Lakes region in Africa. He has co-directed several publications: Côte d'Ivoire, l'année terrible 1999-2000 (2003), Crises extrêmes (2006) et dans le cadre de MSF : Une guerre contre les civils. Réflexions sur les pratiques humanitaires au Congo-Brazzaville, 1998-2000 (2001). Formerly with the CNRS, Marc Le Pape is currently a researcher at the l'Ehess (Centre d'études africaines).

Réfugiés rwandais à la frontière entre le Burundi et le Rwanda

Rwandan refugees at the border between Burundi and Rwanda, April 1994
Copyright: Xavier Lassalle

In August 2017 in Rwanda, the presidential election resulted, unsurprisingly, in a “landslide victory” for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate, Paul Kagame, who secured 98.79% of the votes cast. No one in Rwanda however, delighted or disappointed with the result, supporter or opponent of Kagame, has forgotten the mass crimes that were committed during the conflict that spanned the 1990s, and particularly the genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994.

Members of staff at Médecins Sans Frontières were both witnesses to and victims of these mass killings. Where were they at the time? What were they doing? What did they see? How did they speak out? Delving into the MSF archives gives a unique medical and humanitarian angle of the crimes committed and their consequences in terms of public health. It also sheds light on the operations and dilemmas of a humanitarian organisation in torment, confronted with extreme violence.

Several texts by members and associates of the CRASH published between 1994 and 2014 are united in this collection. In 2017, a book joins these publications: Humanitarian aid, genocide and mass killings: Médecins Sans Frontières, the Rwandan experience (1982-1997)

Some articles of this dossier are only available in French.


Articles of this dossier
Des Rwandais déplacés, près de la frontière avec la RDC (Zaire), décembre 1994

Rwanda: les idiots utiles de Kagame

Cette tribune a été publiée dans le journal Marianne, le 28 janvier 2012. Les découvertes du juge Trevisic ont relancé la polémique sur le Rwanda, une partie de la presse exonérant Kagame de ses responsabilités passées et présentes. Rony Brauman, Jean-Hervé Bradol et Claudine Vidal tentent de mettre en lumière les véritables enjeux du génocide rwandais.

Un enfant fait la queue pour avoir de l'eau

Terror and Impunity in Rwanda

Not having seen the genocidal drift of Hutu Power in 1994 coming, the international community grants Paul Kagame's RPF the impunity of victims. Yet such power also lends itself to criminal acts. The authors express their indignance that NGOs and international organisations - invoking the duty of remembrance - join in the endless evocation of the past that masks the political phenomena at the root of the current violence.