Senator Romeo Dallaire

Senator Romeo Dallaire

June 6, 2011

WINNIPEG — Wealthy nations have established a pecking order among the world’s needy that says black Africans are the last to receive assistance, says Senator Romeo Dallaire.

He cited the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004 killing 230,000 people.

“We committed massively. But more people were killed and refugeed in the crisis in Darfur in 2003 and not a nickel went to Darfur,” said Dallaire, commander of the 1994 United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda.

He spoke in Winnipeg recently at the joint conference of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada and the Catholic Health Association of Manitoba.

In Rwanda, Dallaire tried to stop the genocide waged by Hutu extremists supported by the Rwandan government and military against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Dallaire told of being in a convoy in Rwanda and finding a small boy on the road. The boy’s parents had been killed, he was dirty, his stomach bloated from malnutrition.

“I saw in his eyes exactly what I saw in the eyes of my five-year-old before I left for Africa,” Dallaire said.

“He was just as human and he counted just as much as my son back home.”

In the midst of the slaughter, big military powers sent reconnaissance teams to Rwanda but did not intervene, he recalled.

“They said, ‘There’s really nothing here of value, there’s only human beings and there are way too many of them.’ And that influenced all those other countries to stay away.”

Dallaire said non-governmental organizations are “the voice, eyes and ears of humanity. The way to join in a sense of humanity is to join an NGO.”

“The right of passage for youth of our country should be to have under their beds a pair of boots covered in the dirt of a developing country,” he said.

“They should see what is happening in that 80 per cent of the world that is living in inhuman conditions.”