John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Rwanda and Genocide

by John Campbell
Newly arrived refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo gather at the Nakamira transit camp from the La Corniche border crossing near Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda, May 2, 2012, after fleeing the Masisi region in Congo's North Kivu province after fighting broke out between Congolese troops and fighters loyal to a renegade general. (Reuters staff/Courtesy Reuters) Newly arrived refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo gather at the Nakamira transit camp from the La Corniche border crossing near Gisenyi, northwest Rwanda, May 2, 2012, after fleeing the Masisi region in Congo's North Kivu province after fighting broke out between Congolese troops and fighters loyal to a renegade general. (Reuters staff/Courtesy Reuters)

The ongoing tragedy in eastern Congo is closely related to the history of genocide in Rwanda. Herman J. Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for Africa, former ambassador to Senegal and Gambia and once deputy chief of mission in Congo-Kinshasa, has just published a must-read article (gated): “Rwanda: Fifty Years of Ethnic Conflict on Steroids.” Cohen shows that the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was not a one-off event but part of an ethnic conflict that started in 1959. Its root causes included overpopulation, poverty, and bad colonial policies, especially with respect to sharpening ethnic differences and identities. Read more »