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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Relief Agencies Find Few Tutsis Left Alive

CYANGUGU, Rwanda -- With the arrival of French troops, relief agencies are moving deeper into the most forbidding parts of Rwanda and starting to find the mysterious half-million refugees they knew existed but could not locate. But they say precious few of them are Tutsis, giving further weight to fears that the minority group was virtually wiped out in the one-third of the country controlled by the majority Hutu government. "We find some minorities but not a lot," said Ariane Tombet, director of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Rwanda. "It's in the hundreds." A United Nations report Thursday blamed the Rwandan government for planning a genocide of Tutsis and opposition Hutus and recommended international war crimes charges be brought against the Hutu forces. In this oppressive border town, guarded by abusive and drunken government soldiers and customs authorities, few locals will talk frankly about the Tutsi killings that erupted across Rwanda after April 6, when Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana died in an unexplained plane crash. "The militias are not killing civilians as such. What they are doing is looking for enemy soldiers," said Phocas Fashaho, 30, who said he was a former interpreter for UN peacekeeping units in Kigali, the besieged capital. But across the narrow southern tip of giant Lake Kivu, in the Zairean resort town of Bukavu, witnesses and relief officials remember the carnage in Cyangugu. "We documented about 16,000 to 17,000 killings," said N. Vander Eecken, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees delegation in Bukavu. "Outside of Kigali, this is the worst place. They are all killers there." French troops last week launched their peacekeeping mission in Cyangugu, where Hutus cheered their arrival. They were pleased to see soldiers from a government that helped finance and run their defense of the 1990 Tutsi rebellion. The French troops' first action in Rwanda was to make a carefully publicized visit to a camp in Nyarushishi, where 8,000 Tutsis amazingly survived in the middle of extremist Hutu territory, under the guard of 11 policemen. French troops since then have found only small pockets of hiding Tutsis, none of whom lived among the general population. Relief workers have complained about France's intervening in a conflict in which it has a historical bias. The aid group Doctors of the World was forced out by the Rwandan government for criticizing the French arrival. But the aid agencies clearly have taken advantage of the slightly more relaxed atmosphere among the Hutu militias and government soldiers, who are happy to see their old allies just as the rebels had them on the run. An estimated 2 million people have been driven from their homes in Rwanda, either Tutsis fleeing Hutus or Hutus fleeing the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels.