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Rwanda Stage 4

Canada and the United Nations

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda II is created to stop massacres, protect civilians and provide humanitarian aid.

July 1994 - March 1996


Humanitarian efforts

The UN struggled to stop the genocide. So, it changed its operations in Rwanda in May 1994. The United Nations Security Council created an expanded mission, commonly known as the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda II (UNAMIR II). Its aim was to stop the massacres, protect civilians and provide humanitarian aid. Major-General Dallaire would command UNAMIR II’s 5,500 multinational troops.

More Canadian peacekeepers arrive

Several hundred more CAF members began deploying to Kigali in mid-July 1994. Their duties would vary. The first to come had to set up a barracks and help reestablish the UN mission headquarters there. The main task of the initial Canadian UNAMIR II contingent was to create a reliable communication system in the war-torn country. It would not be easy for our peacekeepers.

A perilous mission

The Canadians were some of the first peacekeepers to arrive for UNAMIR II. Some other country’s troops would not arrive until much later. Our soldiers’ duties often meant they had to deploy in small groups to isolated areas. They saw the horrific after-effects of the genocide, with countless bodies everywhere. The strict rules of engagement still limited the Canadian soldiers from getting involved when they saw new violence. Sometimes they would also encounter armed gangs and have to diffuse the standoff.

Helping in many ways

A later Canadian contingent came to offer logistical support to the UN force. These troops provided vital vehicle transport, maintenance and supply capabilities. Through it all, Canadians tried to help the local people. Our soldiers often shared their rations with hungry children. They got humanitarian aid like food and medicine to the suffering Rwandan people. They risked their lives to transport people from danger zones to safer places. They also took on more personal support projects, such as helping set up local orphanages and visiting the small children living there.

Operation PASSAGE

The CAF also launched Operation PASSAGE in the summer of 1994 to provide medical services to refugees returning to Rwanda. In August, the Canadians built a field hospital with doctors, nurses, medics and other support personnel. The Canadians often picked up people in need at roadside collection points and took them to the field hospital for treatment.

Canadian military engineers worked on local water supplies to improve the health of Rwandans. They also helped clear landmines and unexploded bombs. Our peacekeepers taught local people about these dangerous weapons still scattered across the country.

A change in command

In August 1994, Canada’s Major-General Guy Tousignant became the new UNAMIR II Force Commander. He built on Major-General Dallaire's great example of leadership in difficult circumstances. Major-General Dallaire returned to Canada.

Canadians return home

Canadian peacekeepers rotated in and out of Rwanda as the UN mission continued and its needs evolved. In early 1995, CAF members began returning home. By February 1996, the last Canadian peacekeepers who had been supporting UNAMIR II finally left.

Classroom materials

Classroom materials main page

Lesson plan: 12-18

Humanitarian aid tree

historical sheet


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