29 February 2008


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Rwanda in the evening of Monday, 28 January.

The Secretary-General started his visit to Kigali on Tuesday morning with an emotional visit to the genocide memorial where he paid his respects to the more than 800,000 victims of the 1994 massacres.

After touring the rooms filled with pictures of the killing fields of 1994, with snapshots of young children wounded, with piles of bones recovered from mass graves and the machetes used in the massacres, the Secretary-General spoke of the genocide that, he said, “will haunt the United Nations and the international community for generations to come”.  The Secretary-General called for an “end to impunity that can ensure that our cry of ‘never again’ will become an enduring reality, not only for Rwanda, but for our common humanity”.  “The 1994 genocide,” he said, “has led to a significant rethinking of how the United Nations operates -- in peacekeeping, in conflict prevention and in how we protect innocent people from such atrocities.”  Before leaving the genocide memorial, the Secretary-General gave a personal pledge of $10,000 to the “Fonds d’Assistance aux rescapes du genocide”, a fund set up by the Government to assist the survivors of the genocide, and help in the education of hundreds of orphans.  (See Press Release SG/SM/11392)

Later that morning, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, before meeting President Paul Kagame.

In a joint press conference with President Kagame, the Secretary-General told the media that they had discussed the situation in Kenya, the deployment of the hybrid force in Darfur, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, progress in implementing the Millennium Development Goals, the Connect Africa Summit and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

The Secretary-General also addressed a joint session of Parliament, where he stressed the progress made in Rwanda 14 years since the genocide in improving social services and in regional integration.  He noted the empowerment of women, who now constitute 43 per cent of local elected officials.  (See Press Release SG/SM/11393)

Later, the Secretary-General and Mrs. Ban were welcomed by chanting and dancing in the Village of Hope, a project of the Rwanda Women Network.  “I am now a spokesperson for your cause,” he told the women, many of them genocide survivors who work in the centre, sewing, making baskets or growing vegetables in fields nearby.  The Secretary-General also met several orphans, adopted by families within the Network, and who are receiving an education at the Village.

Madam Ban Soon-taek had earlier in the day accompanied First Lady Jeannette Kagame in a visit to Imbuto Foundation, a project recently launched to support initiatives on health, education and economic empowerment for women with HIV/AIDS.

The Secretary-General and Madam Ban Soon-taek left Rwanda early on Wednesday, 30 January, to attend the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

For information media. Not an official record.