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January 22, 1997

Genocide and the Plight of Children in Rwanda

Author Affiliations

Eric Stover
From the Department of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Mass (Dr Geltman); and Human Rights Center and School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley (Mr Stover).

JAMA. 1997;277(4):289-294. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540280027017

THE RWANDAN genocide of 1994 will be remembered as one of the greatest human tragedies of our time. In less than 3 months, extremists systematically slaughtered more than 500 000 people, including thousands of children.1 The massacres reignited a bloody civil war that forced more than 4 million people to flee their homes.2 Today, nearly 3 years later, Rwanda remains a highly traumatized society, where children are its most vulnerable members. Among those most at risk are more than 100000 children who were orphaned or separated from their parents (United Nations Children's Fund, unpublished data, press release 94/26, May 24, 1994).

Between August 1994 and February 1996, we traveled on 3 occasions to Rwanda and northeastern Zaire as representatives of Médecins du Monde and Physicians for Human Rights. Our task was to assess the nature and scope of the Rwandan genocide and its effects on children. We also