Fighting between the Armed Forces of the mainly Hutu Government of Rwanda and the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) first broke out in October 1990 across the border between Rwanda and its northern neighbour, Uganda. A number of ceasefire agreements followed, including one negotiated at Aruhsa, United republic of Tanzania, on 22 July 1992, which arranged for the presence in rwanda of a 50-member Neutral Military Observer Group I (NMOG I) furnished by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Hostilities resumed in the northern part of the country in early February 1993, interrupting comprehensive negotiations between the Government of Rwanda and RPF, which were supported by OAU and facilitated by the United Republic of Tanzania.
The United Nations active involvement in Rwanda started in 1993, when Rwanda and Uganda requested the deployment of military observers along the common border to prevent the military use of the area by RPF. The Security Council in June 1993 established the United Nations Observer Mission Uganda-Rwanda (UNOMUR) on the Ugandan side of the border to verify that no military assistance reached Rwanda.
Meanwhile, the Arusha talks, brokered by Tanzania and OAU, reconvened in March 1993 and finally led to a peace agreement in August 1993. The comprehensive peace agreement called for a democratically elected government and provided for the establishment of a broad-based transitional Government until the elections, in addition to repatriation of refugees and integration of the armed forces of the two sides. In October 1993, the Security Council established another international force, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), to help the parties implement the agreement, monitor its implementation and support the transitional Government.
On 22 June 1993, the Security Council, by its resolution 846 (1993), authorized the establishment of UNOMUR on the Uganda side of the common border, for an initial period of six months, subject to review every six months. The Council decided that the verification would focus primarily on transit or transport, by roads or tracks which could accommodate vehicles, of lethal weapons and ammunition across the border, as well as any other material which could be of military use.
By that resolution, the Council also welcomed the Secretary-General's decision to support the peacekeeping efforts of OAU by putting two military experts at its disposal to help expedite the deployment of OAU's expanded NMOG (NMOG II) to Rwanda. It also urged the Government of Rwanda and RPF to conclude quickly a comprehensive peace agreement, and requested the Secretary-General to report on the contribution the United Nations could make to assist OAU in implementing this agreement and to begin contingency planning in the event that the Council decided that such a contribution was needed.
As requested by resolution 846 (1993), the United Nations undertook consultations with the Government of Uganda with a view to concluding a status of mission agreement for UNOMUR. The agreement was finalized and entered into force on 16 August 1993. This opened the way to deployment of an advance party which arrived in the mission area on 18 August. UNOMUR established its headquarters in Kabale, Uganda, about 20 kilometres north of the border with Rwanda. By the end of September 1993, the Mission had reached its authorized strength of 81 military observers and was fully operational.
Following the conclusion of the Arusha peace talks, the Secretary-General recommended that the Security Council establish another peacekeeping operation – UNAMIR. In doing so, he proposed that the military observers of UNOMUR come under the command of the new Mission, while maintaining their separate monitoring tasks on the Uganda-Rwanda border. UNAMIR was established on 5 October by Security Council resolution 872 (1993).
UNOMUR restricted its monitoring activities in Uganda along the area of the border with Rwanda controlled by RPF. The Mission established observation posts at two major crossing sites and three secondary sites on the Ugandan side of the border. The mission monitored the area through mobile patrols enhanced by airborne coverage. It also facilitated the transit of vehicles transporting food and medical supplies to Rwanda. Reporting to the Security Council on 15 December 1993 on the activities of the Mission, the Secretary-General noted that UNOMUR was "a factor of stability in the area and that it was playing a useful role as a confidence-building mechanism". Upon his recommendation, the Council, by its resolution 891 (1993) of 20 December 1993, extended UNOMUR's mandate by six months. The Council expressed its appreciation to the Government of Uganda for its cooperation and support for UNOMUR and also underlined the importance of a cooperative attitude on the part of the civilian and military authorities in the mission area.
On 6 April 1994, an aircraft carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi crashed at Kigali airport, killing all those on board. The two Presidents had been attending a regional meeting at Dar es Salaam. It was not possible to carry out a full investigation of the causes of the crash, which remain unknown.
The crash was followed over the next three months by a series of events whose speed and ferocity taxed to the utmost the attempts of the international community to respond. The horror that engulfed Rwanda during this period was threefold: mass murders throughout the country amounting to genocide; a brief but violent civil war that swept government forces out of the country; and refugee flows that created a humanitarian and ecological crisis of unprecedented dimensions.
Those events had a direct effect on the activities of UNAMIR and UNOMUR. UNAMIR sought to arrange a ceasefire, without success, and its personnel came increasingly under attack. In July, RPF forces took control of Rwanda, effectively ending the civil war, and established a broad-based Government. The new Government declared its commitment to the 1993 peace agreement. [For more information see UNAMIR.]
For their part, when the conflict broken out in April and after RPF gained control of the entire Uganda-Rwanda border, the UNOMUR extended its observation and monitoring activities to that area. This necessitated the readjustment of tasks and the reassignment of military observers. UNOMUR carried out its tasks essentially through patrolling, monitoring and surveillance of the whole stretch of the operational area, involving both mobile and fixed observations as well as on-site investigations of suspected cross-border traffic.
On 16 June 1994, the Secretary-General reported to the Security Council that UNOMUR had been particularly critical as UNAMIR sought to defuse tensions resulting from the resumption of hostilities. The Mission's activities allowed UNAMIR to address, at least to some degree, the issue of outside interference in the Rwandese civil war. Its presence was a factor of stability in the area. Nevertheless, there appeared to be little rationale for monitoring one of Rwanda's borders and not the others. He believed that UNOMUR should continue its monitoring activities until an effective ceasefire was established. He therefore recommended that UNOMUR's mandate be renewed for a period of three months. During that period, the number of military observers would be reduced by phases, adjusting to operational requirements. UNOMUR would be closed down by 21 September 1994. The Security Council endorsed the Secretary-General's recommendations on 20 June 1994 by its resolution 928 (1994).
Reduction of UNOMUR was carried out in four phases with a gradual scaling down of monitoring activities. Phase one took effect on 15 August, and the Mission's total strength of 80 military observers was reduced by 25. In phase two, effective from 30 August, the Mission was further reduced by nine military observers. In phase three, effective from 6 September, an additional 12 military observers left, leaving a total strength of 34. In the final phase, all remaining military and civilian personnel were to leave the area by 21 September. The formal closing ceremony was presided by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Kofi Annan.
The Secretary-General informed the Security Council that, while the tragic turn of events in Rwanda had prevented UNOMUR from fully implementing its mandate, the Mission had played a useful role in efforts to build confidence, defuse tensions and facilitate the implementation of the Arusha Agreement. Following the Security Council's authorization on 17 May to expand UNAMIR, UNOMUR became a forward base to back up the movement of UNAMIR personnel, equipment and supplies into Rwanda. During the closure of Kigali airport, Entebbe airport in Uganda functioned as the only air base from which those personnel and supplies were routed by land to Rwanda. A team of UNOMUR military observers was stationed at Entebbe to coordinate logistic activities, and UNOMUR observers escorted convoys of logistic material and foodstuffs to the Uganda-Rwanda border for use by UNAMIR. UNOMUR also facilitated the transport of UNAMIR and other United Nations personnel between Kabale and Entebbe and between Kabale and Goma and Bukavu in Zaire. The evacuation of UNAMIR casualties was carried out with UNOMUR assistance.
The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to the Government of Uganda for the cooperation and assistance it had extended to the Mission. He commended both the military and the civilian personnel of UNOMUR for the dedication and professionalism with which they had carried out their tasks.
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