U.S. Department of State
Press Statement by James P. Rubin/Spokesman
Released by the Office of the Spokesman, London, United Kingdom
December 18, 1997
Massacre at Mudende Refugee Camp, Rwanda
On December 12, immediately after news reached Secretary Albright that a massacre of Congolese Tutsi had occurred at Mudende refugee camp in northwest Rwanda, she dispatched David Scheffer, Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, to Rwanda to investigate the atrocity. As Secretary Albright said before the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa on December 9th, we need to be prepared to acknowledge these types of international crimes and to confront their perpetrators.
Ambassador Scheffer reported to Secretary Albright on Tuesday, December 16th, in Brussels with his findings and recommendations regarding his first-hand investigation of the Mudende camp massacre. We will be reviewing his full report in the days ahead and examining future steps to assist the Rwandan government and people in preventing such atrocities and bringing those responsible to justice.
Based on Ambassador Scheffer's report, I would like to make the following points:
In addition, Ambassador Scheffer visited the volcanic caves of Kanama north of Gisenyi where there has been recent fighting between the Rwandan Patriotic Army and insurgents. The situation there may not be as dire as has been reported by non-governmental sources. The RPA claims that it pursued 60-120 insurgents into the caves on October 26 and 27 but did not observe any large number of local civilians fleeing into the caves during or after the hot pursuit. While it is clear that there are some dead bodies in the caves, there is no visible evidence that there were mass killings of hundreds or thousands of Rwandan citizens by the RPA. There is one major cave opening which has not been blocked up by the RPA and through which anyone in the caves can emerge to surrender. The last gunfire from the remaining cave openings occurred about three weeks ago. The RPA speculates there may be other cave openings nearer to the border with the DROC, from which insurgents or civilians may have escaped, but has not found them. We will continue to monitor the situation at the Kanama caves and work towards confirming the numbers of dead there as soon as is feasible.
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