Kwibuka 23: UNHCR pays tribute to Rwandans killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi

On this solemn day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) held a ceremony in commemoration of the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi and in remembrance of eleven UNHCR employees who were killed during the atrocities.

UNHCR staff stood side-by-side with the Rwandan people and in particular the families of the staff members who perished and bowed their heads in a moment of silence to honor the memory of all who lost their lives and others who suffered and continue to grieve.

“We remember, to honour the memory of all of those who lost their lives during one of history’s darkest times. We remember, to offer comfort to those families who survived. And we remember, to commit ourselves to create and live in a peaceful environment free from discrimination,” said Mr. Saber Azam, UNHCR Representative in Rwanda, in his remarks during the ceremony which was presided by the head of the UNHCR Staff Association. UNHCR and the Government of Rwanda are supporting thousands of Rwandans who fled during the genocide to return home, after years in exile abroad, to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into Rwandan society.

Thepohile Rutagengwa, Francois Rutayigirwa, Anicet Senjenje, Marcel Twagirayezu, Gaspard Gashagaza, Francois Gasana, Jean Baptiste Gisa, Odette Mukashefu, Albert Mwigishwa, Jean Nyakagaragu and Sixbert Rugema were treasured UNHCR colleagues whose lives were unfairly and tragically cut short. Mr. Azam said that the humanitarian community will always remember them. “We will honour them every day in everything we do. And today we pay special respect to them.”

The importance of the theme of this year’s genocide commemoration period, building on progress in fighting genocide ideology, was also highlighted during the ceremony. “The best way of paying tribute to our beloved colleagues is to show respect for all persons equally, without distinction whatsoever of ethnicity, race, gender or other personal status,” said Mr. Azam referring to the UNHCR Code of Conduct which contains comprehensive provisions relating to freedom from discrimination. “We will strive to remove all barriers to equality as part of our effort to ensure that what took place in Rwanda 23 years ago never happens again.”

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. In Rwanda, UNHCR works with the Government of Rwanda to ensure that over 170,000 refugees are protected, to coordinate the interagency refugee response, manage six refugee camps, and provide life-saving assistance for refugees in need. UNHCR is also working with the Government to bring the Rwandan refugee situation to a close, by helping Rwandans who fled during the genocide to return home.

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