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UNAMIR 1994/95

(3 customer reviews)
Authors: Kevin O'Halloran

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Author Kevin O’Halloran’s new book Rwanda UNAMIR 1994/95 is the first in the new Australian Army History Units Australian Military History Series focusing on the nuts and bolts on this type of support missions.

Rwanda is no stranger to violence. In 1994, an orgy of killing swept across the tiny land-locked nation and genocide – the size and magnitude unseen since the Hitler horrors of WWII, erupted. Around one million men, women and children were mercilessly shot, hacked to death or burnt alive.

To alleviate the suffering and restore order, a group of Australian UN peacekeepers was sent to Rwanda under a United Nations’ mandate. These Australians would be exposed to a lack of humanity they were not prepared for and found hard to fathom.

On 22 April 1995, the daily horror and tragedy they had witnessed escalated out of control. At a displaced persons’ camp in Kibeho, in full view of the Australian soldiers, over 4,000 unarmed men, women and children died in a hail of bullets, grenades and machete blades at the hands of the Rwandan Patriotic Army. Constrained by UN peacekeeping Rules of Engagement, these Australians could only watch helplessly and try to assist the wounded under the gaze of the trigger-happy killers.

Rwanda – UNAMIR 1994/95 is a detailed account of what happened during this peacekeeping mission. Kevin O’Halloran, a Platoon Sergeant at the time, has recorded these events using material from numerous interviews and eyewitness accounts.

For many, their service in Rwanda would come with a personal toll. No Australians died during this operation though as this book testifies, the suffering and tragedy is embedded in their memories.

Rwanda is Kevin’s second book. His first book Pure Massacre, Aussie soldiers reflect on the Rwandan Genocide, (Big Sky Publishing, 2010), was received with Australian and international acclaim as ‘heartfelt and frank, showing the world that genocide did happen in Rwanda.’

Kevin O’Halloran

Kevin O’Halloran

Kevin ‘Irish’ O’Halloran was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1961 and migrated to Australia with his parents, elder brother and two sisters in 1970. He grew up around the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, for most of his teenage years. In April 1981, he joined the Army and has served on four operational tours of […]

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3 reviews for Rwanda

  1. Like most of the Australian Army created books it has a lot of detail and uses source data that most historians would not have direct access to. The book details the horrible conditions relating to the Kibeho massacre – a counter-massacre, as it were – which took place in front of our troops who were bound by strict rules of engagement which the killers knew and exploited. The book does not have a lot of detail about how and why the massacre occurred – there are books that deal with the earlier Rwandan genocide for that – but it does give great detail about what our troops saw. The Tutsi RPA who were the saviours of the original genocide had become killers themselves, and it frustrated the troops that they were not in a position to do anything meaningful to protect the victims. My only criticism is that while the book has been written by a Staff Sergeant which gives a very authentic tone, there are a number of mistakes and obvious typos, as well as some opinion that would not be put in by an academic historian. I almost put the book down when it was suggested that the Tutsi should have expected a massacre by supporting the RPA rebels; one wonders whether the author been driven to hatred of the Tutsi by what he witnessed? Nevertheless, the book stands as a great witness for an event that should not be forgotten.

  2. MARK COLVIN: Twenty years ago today, 32 Australians were forced to watch helplessly as a war crime unfolded before their eyes. The place was Rwanda, but this was not the massacre you probably know about. That was in 1994, and it happened when militias of the fanatical Hutu Interahamwe murdered hundreds of thousands of mostly Tutsi compatriots, the great majority at close range with machetes. This was the following year, a time when the country was supposed to be returning to normal. It happened in a camp called Kibeho. It was full of Hutu refugees but surrounded by the mainly Tutsi Rwanda Patriotic Front army which had won the war. Paul Jordan was one of the Australians on a UN medical mission to the camp.

  3. What a shame it isn’t compulsory reading. Irish and all Australian soldiers should be proud & know we are grateful

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