SENIOR CATHOLIC AID workers were this week among those who urged the Government and the international community to intervene to "stop the genocide" which is tearing apart the African state of Rwanda and to condemn the "Pontius Pilate actions of the UN".
Representatives of CAFOD were among the signatories of a letter, presented to Downing Street on Tuesday, following a vigil outside the church of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, in which leading aid agencies warned that inter-ethnic fighting in Rwanda had led to the deaths of 500,000 people, most of whom are from the minority Tutsi tribe. If this figure is confirmed, says the letter, "it will represent genocide on an horrific scale with a level of killing not seen since Cambodia in the 1970s". "A relatively small UN force could offer protection to civilians seeking refuge in Safe Areas" said the letter.
Among those who have been massacred in the conflict are three Jesuits and five diocesan priests who were murdered, along with 11 others, at a Jesuit centre in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Killed this week was the Anglican assistant bishop of Kigeme, Rev Alexis BilindabagaboJulian Filochowski, director of CAFOD, told the Catholic Herald. "The international comunity cannot just stand back and wring its hands over Rwanda". "The has failed Africa" said Mr Filochowsld.
ieports from Oxfam workers in n ighbouring Burundi, indicate that number of killings in Rwanda is ch larger than was hitherto s pected. "The whereabouts of up to half a million Tutsis are not known and their lives are in grave danger" said a news release from Oxfam.
A stream of refugees fleeing to Tanzania was halted this week when rebel forces ocupied the frontier.
I.JS President Bill Clinton this week bcked calls for an all-African peacek eping force to prevent further bloodshed in the country.