1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Rwanda

Census finds 937,000 died in genocide

[Rwanda] Remains of the 1994 genocide victims killed in Murambi, Gikongoro Province, southeastern Rwanda.
Remains of the 1994 genocide victims killed in Murambi, southeastern Rwanda (IRIN)

A census carried out by Rwanda's Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports found that 937,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutus died during the 1994 genocide, an official announced on Thursday.

"These are the people who died during the 100 days [April-June 1994] of mayhem and who we were able to find out their names, age and their places of birth," Robert Bayigamba, the minister for youth, culture and sports, said at a news conference in the capital, Kigali.

He said the death toll could increase when the Gacaca justice system becomes fully operational as many perpetrators of the genocide were expected to testify about the people they killed. The Gacaca trials, based on traditional communal justice, are expected to begin later this year.

The genocide death toll has often been conflicting, with various organisations quoting figures between 500,000 and one million.

"We shall come up with the exact figure after the Gacaca courts complete their work," he said.

Meanwhile, the Rwandan government wants former first lady Agathe Kanziga Habyarimana arrested for her alleged role in planning the execution of the genocide, an official told IRIN on Friday.

The government maintains that Habyarimana, along with her two brothers, Selaphe Rwabugumba and Protais Zigiranyirazo, were "key masterminds" of the genocide and must be brought to justice either in Rwanda or at the Tanzania-based UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

"We have sent out a formal request to Interpol to have these people arrested and brought to justice for crimes of genocide," Emmanuel Rukangira, a state attorney, said.

Rwanda claims Habyarimana now lives in France while her brothers are in Belgium.

"They were key members of the Akazu clan," Rukangira said. The Akazu, or the "inner circle", comprised close relatives of Agathe and Juvenal Habyarimana and their allies. The Akazu allegedly orchestrated the genocide.

Some members of the Akazu, like Zigiranyirazo and Col. Theoneste Bagasora, are already facing trial at the ICTR.

Rwanda recently announced that it was preparing a list of 300 suspected masterminds of the genocide who are still at large and living in Europe, North America and Australia.

"It is high time that these people who have been trotting around the world were brought to justice," Rukangira said.

Regarding plans for the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the genocide, Bayigamba said at least six heads of state and other high-ranking government representatives, were expected in Kigali on 7 April for the occasion.

He said Rwandans would begin a week of mourning on Monday, during which remains of some genocide victims would be buried in dignity and flags will fly at half-staff.

"We commemorate the genocide to give honour and dignity to the victims of genocide, reflect on the past and strive to move to a better future," he added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.