Human displacement and insecurity in Africa: the genocide in Rwanda, the great lake crisis and the wars in D.R. Congo.
In the mid-1990s, international media attention was focused on the African Great Lakes refugee crisis, hundreds of international humanitarian non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies were mobilized to provide relief, and the tragic event had destabilizing effects on Zaire/DR Congo by producing three subsequent violent armed conflicts. "In the brief span of time between 1994 and 1997, [the Great Lakes region] has rapidly replaced Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa as the most violence-prone of the continent's major regions." (1)
The refugee crisis was closely linked to the genocide in Rwanda and to the international misunderstanding of the nature and dynamic of the crisis. In this article, we shall present the historical background of the humanitarian crisis and then we shall analyze the media discursive construction of insecurity in the camps by showing that non-discrimation between military residents of refugee camps and the innocent civilians led to several levels of insecurity for the non-combatant displaced individuals. The argument will be built on the analytic framework of the Copenhagen School and on securitization and will highlight the relevance of previous works such as Philippe Bourbeau, The Securitization of Migration. A study of movement and order, and Jef Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity. Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU.
The Great Lake crisis: brief historical survey
The Great Lake Crisis represented one of the most dramatic humanitarian emergencies in the post-Cold War African history and ignited international concern and scholarly debate. The Great Lakes region (or the African Great Lakes) comprises the lakes Albert, Edward, Kivu, Tanganyka, Victoria, and includes the following countries: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (2), and the north-western areas of Kenya and Tanzania.
According to the United Nations Development Programme, "[t]he Great Lakes Region [... ] has witnessed some of the direst conflicts on the African continent, rooted in longstanding tensions over ethnicity and citizenship, grievances over access to resources, including land and minerals. A total of 56 million people live below the national poverty line in the region, of which 47 million, or 71 per cent, are in the DRC." (3) Arthur Helton analyzed the decade of humanitarian intervention (the 1990s) and, referring to what he called "the last decade's refugee story", the author wrote that "perhaps the greatest single humanitarian challenge of the decade was posed by the refugee crisis in the Great Lakes region of Africa after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The daunting nature of the challenge was occasioned both by the magnitude of displacement and by a poisonous context of insecurity and injustice." (4)
The Genocide in Rwanda
The Great Lakes Crisis caused enormous suffering on the civilian population and was triggered by several events. One central event of the crisis which tragically spilled over the enire region was the genocide in Rwanda, in April-June 1994, which "was one of the most gruesome massacres of civilians since the Holocaust during the Second World War [and] the mass exodus of civilians during that three-month period was arguably the largest forced movement of civilians in recent history." (5)
Prior to 1994, the Hutu-ruled government of Rwanda and the Tutsiled Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had been involved in an armed conflict which was perceived internationally as a civil war. This perception/designation was legitimate, but it also had a huge impact on the non-intervention of the international community during the genocide and was used as pretext for inaction, producing what Nicholas Wheeler has called a "global bystander to genocide." (6) Several events played a key role in triggering the slaughter. First of all, the Hutu extremists comprising president Juvenal Habyarima's governing party (and his family) fearfully resisted power sharing arrangements with the Tutsis. When Habyarimana signed the Arusha peace agreement with the RPF in 1993, he responded positively to international pressure for democratization and to the African states' compellance, but he also dissatisfied the non-compromising and "virulently anti-Tutsi Coalition pour la Defense de la Republique (CDR)" which had been set up in 1992, and hence "the organizational machinery of genocide was being created." (7) Secondly, in 1993, Burundi's Hutu and first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, was assasinated by the Tutsi army in a coup, resulting in an exodus of approximately 200,000 Hutu refugees (8) streaming "into the south and central regions [of Rwanda] who were ripe for political mobilization." (9) Thirdly, in April 1994, a plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down and the leaders' death unleashed almost immediately the genocide against moderate Hutus and Tutsis.
Those responsible for the "speed and technical organisation of the genocide" (10) were the Armed Forces of Rwanda/Forces Armees Rwandaises (FAR), the interahamwe militia (or "those who work together" (11)) and the impuzamugambi, which were the youth wings of CDR and of the governing party Mouvement National pour la Revolution et le Developpement (MNRD), but also Habyarimana's family, advisers and members of the presidential guard. (12) As already mentioned, the mass killing of Tutsis and Hutu moderates was deliberate, planned, and carried on brutally during what is now known as the "100-day genocide". The organized violence was coordinated via 'radio hate', namely Radio Mille Collines in Kigali, "which was broadcasting allegorically coded messages such as 'cut the tall trees' to Interahamwe militias that were waiting for the call to duty." (13) According to Romeo Dallaire,
"The news media--both domestic and international--played a crucial role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. From my vantage point as commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), I was able to watch the strange dichotomy of local media, on one side, fuelling the killing while international media, on the other side, virtually ignored or misunderstood what was happening.
The local media, particularly the extremist radio station Radio-Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), were literally part of the genocide. The genocidaires used the media like a weapon. The haunting image of killers with a machete in one hand and a radio in the other never leaves you." (14)
The massacre produced 800,000-1,000.000 deaths and huge human displacement with tragic consequences for the entire Great Lakes region. The UN troops present in Rwanda (UNAMIR I) had a peace-keeping mandate (since they had been deployed to monitor the implementation of the Arusha Agreement). Therefore, the UN forces, faced with the deterioarating situation and urged by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), started withdrawing from Rwanda, despite Major General Romeo Dallaire's constant warnings regarding the imminent threat posed to thousands of innocent civilians and requests for a stronger mandate. (15) The idea of turning the UN mission from a peace-keeping one into a Chapter VII peace enforcement one, in the form of forcible humanitarian intervention, was never discussed within the UNSC and the reluctance of European states to deploy troops was centred on the idea of never crossing again the "Mogadishu-line" (16), because the recent memory of American soldiers killed in Somalia was still vivid. In June 1994, it was France who offered to lead a humanitarian mission and thus UNSC Resolution 929 authorized a temporary French mission "for humanitarian purposes in Rwanda until UNAMIR is brought up to the necessary strength." (17) By this time, however, "much of the genocide had been accomplished. The mass killing was planned, and most of it occurred in April and early May. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) had invaded from bases in southern Uganda, and the government that had organized and presided over the mass killings of Tutsis and their supporters had fled from Kigali." (18)
The 2,500 heavily armed French troops deployed during Operation Turquoise represented an exclusively French intervention, even though the "Security Council authorized a multinational force under French command" (19), and raised controversy over the legitimacy of the mission. Since France had been supporting the Hutu-dominated government of Rwanda and since during the three-month genocide "France remained openly hostile to the [Tutsi-led] RPF" (20), the criticism was centred on the fact that "the real purpose of the 'humanitarian' mission was to save its client government that was losing the war with the RPF." (21) According the the authoritative account of Gerard Prunier, French high-ranked military talked about the need to "break the back of the RPF", so there was an interest in preventing a Rwandan Patriotic Front victory. (22) According to other voices, like the commander of Operation Turquoise, the imperative task was "'putting the Arusha Accords back into operation', meaning implementing an agreement which required the RPF to share power with other parties." (23) According to Arthur Helton,
"While the French forces did not engage the RPF in 1994, it seems clear that the deployment had the effect of slowing the advance of the rebels, who then swept to victory after the French withdrawal. Whether this was the primary motivation of the intervention will remain the subject of historical debate. It seems clear, however, that decision makers were animated by an array of political and strategic factors in addition to the humanitarian consideration. The absence of a genuine multilateral character to the intervention--only Senegal contributed a modest contingent of troops--heightened the possibility and perception of the pursuit of political and strategic objectives in the guise of a humanitarian mission. Even the cover provided by UN Security Council Resolution 929 could not mask the reality of an essentially unilateral intervention." (24)
In Prunier's analysis, President Mitterand was determined to initiate Operation Turquoise under the perceived prospect of South Africa/another "Anglo-Saxon" country's intervention in Rwanda, coupled with criticism from humanitarian and human rights organizations during the genocide. (25) The controversy over France's decisions was even more acute, since in 1993 "French forces were used to halt an incursion by fighters of the RPF [and] some of the French troops deployed in Operation Turquoise had served previously in Rwanda and trained the government's soldiers." (26)
The French mission, however, created a safe zone in the southwest part of Rwanda, wherein many Hutu leaders, Rwandan military and civilians retreated (27) and, according to most estimations, saved the lives of 15,000 to 17,000 Tutsi. The downsizing impact, though, was that it "jeopardized other Tutsi by giving them a false sense of security" (28) and also endangered the retreating UNAMIR I troops, since according to Dallaire, "the arrival of French troops led the RPF to retaliate against the UN." (29) In her detailed account, Alison Des Forges emphasized that during the first weeks of the massacre the international community tolerated the genocide and by the time the tragedy was coming to an end "[s]ome 2,500 well-equipped elite French forces saved 15,000 to 17,000 lives [while] the barely 500 UN peacekeepers, poorly equipped and minimally supplied, protected about twice that number during the course of the genocide." (30)
The French troops provided relief operations in the Safe Humanitarian Zone, but the limited pre-established two-month timetable of the mission induced panic within the Hutu displaced community and thousands of them fled, crossing the border into Zaire, since they "chose to take their chances in the [refugee] camps rather than stay and face the RPF." (31) The result was the creation of safe corridors for the fleeing Hutus, amongst whom the Interahamwe members and the genocidaires, and by the time French troops retreated in August 1994 "not a single genocidaire had been arrested in their safe zone." (32) The escape of those responsible for the massacre had a huge and frustrating impact on the new Rwandan elite, later pushing the government in Kigali on the verge of inter-state war with DR Congo (33) and leading to dramatic repercussions for the entire region. Sinthesizing French actions, Tatiana Carayannis and Herbert F. Weiss claimed that:
"Operation Turquoise had two principal effects that were contrary to its mandate of protection and neutrality: first, it failed to stop the bulk of the massacres of civilians that were still occurring; and second, the operation did not disarm the Hutu militias, known as the Interahamwe, nor the defeated Forces Armees Rwandaises (FAR) units. Instead, it allowed them and their political leaders, along with masses of Rwandan Hutu civilians, to escape across the border into the Congo. These effects resulted in the profound destabilization of eastern Congo." (34)
Nicholas Wheeler argued that the French intervention "worsened the escalating refugee crisis" and that the organizers of the genocide, "militia leaders and government soldiers found themselves without food or medicines living side by side with their Tutsi victims" (35) in the refugee camps.
In terms of human displacement and human suffering, the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide displayed approximately one million Hutu refugees who were streaming in the camps around Goma (with the genocidaires mingled with the civilians), thousands of people killed due to a cholera epidemic in the camps, the destabilization and the breaking out of inter-ethnic violence in eastern Congo (in the Kivu provinces).
The wars in DR Congo
The violent conflict in former Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo was one of the most protracted in the post Second World War history. It produced human displacement, refugee crises and was one of the most tragic humanitarian disasters. It actually comprised three different civil wars from 1994 to 2005 (which we dealt with elswhere (36)), but in what follows we will focus on the period 1994-1997. The huge refugee crises (known as the Great Lakes crisis) inflicted suffering on large number of individuals, who were not only living in every-day-life fear and terror, but were also decimated by widespread disease. According to the EU Security and Defence core documents, the violence in DR Congo "reached nearly continental dimensions" and "millions of people died, the whole Great Lakes region was set aflame, decades of development were destroyed and unaccounted suffering, misery and turmoil was brought upon entire populations." (37)
Zaire had been ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko ever since 1965. From 1965 to 1997, the regime of Mobutu introduced a one-party system, by concentrating state power in Mobutu's MPR (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution/Popular Movement of the Revolution), and was characterized by gross human rights abuses and state "kleptocracy" scandals which turned "Zaire into a byword for corruption." (38) Mobutu managed to maintain control over the entire population, by weakening any attempt of separatism and by employing a divide and rule strategy, which implied inter alia the transformation of military organizations into his own "private armies". (39) He was in good relations with the Hutu-dominated regime from Rwanda and insurrections movements have operated for years out of the Congolese territory against the Museveni-led Uganda. (40) When the Tutsi-led RPF defeated the Hutu government in July 1994, a huge refugee flow comprising approximately one million Hutu streamed into eastern Zaire (especially into the two Kivu provinces). As mentioned, amongst the refugee camps were also the genocidaires, members of FAR (Forces Armees Rwandaises/Rwandan Armed Forces) and Interahamwe (Hutu extremists). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) set up refugee camps in eastern Zaire, but could not prevent or dissuade "the reestablishment [... ] of the political and military structures and leadership that were responsible for the genocide in Rwanda", leading to a situation wherein
"The camps soon replicated the highly organized, hierarchical, and disciplined Rwandan Hutu political and military systems under the genocidaires, so that camp residents were led by the same communal authorities they had lived under when in Rwanda. These camps were subsequently used as staging grounds from which these Interahamwe/ex-FAR regrouped and launched offensives against the new Tutsi-dominated government in Rwanda." (41)
The huge exodus was soon followed by a cholera epidemic which received ample media coverage and produced major human losses (between 20,000 and 50,000) among the camp residents. (42) The events immediately led to the destabilization of eastern Zaire and the outburst of the so-called First Congo War. Zaire accused Rwanda of backing up the rebels in the Kivus, while Rwanda accused Mobutu of sheltering the Hutu extremists. Local authorities in north Kivu have been resorting to a "quasi-ethnic cleansing campaign" (43) ever since 1993 and in 1996 the Banyamulenge/Congolese Tutsis were told they had to leave Zaire or be "exterminated and expelled." (44) This led to another exodus of people, but one armed group among them (trained and armed by the RPF) started to fight the FAZ (Forces Armees Zairoises/Zairean Armed Forces) and the Hutu militias.
As emphasized elsewhere (45), both parties to the conflict invoked security reasons. On the one hand, Zaire accused its neighbours, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, of destabilizing its eastern territory (over which it actually had no control) and received military help from the Interahamwe/ex-FAR operating out of the refugee camps. On the other hand, Rwanda and Uganda accused Zaire of protecting the genocidaires and of backing up insurrection movements operating against their governments from eastern Zaire. It never turned into an inter-state war, though it was on the verge to become one. Mobutu accused its neighbours of foreign invasion, while his opposing party tried to show that it was a Congolese action against its government (even though there were many outside troops operating). An indicator to the growing antipathy towards Mobutu was the international reaction, since the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) did not "condemn the invading forces" and "Western press [...] from the start of the war referred to it as a civil war or rebellion." (46)
The mounting anti-Zairean government rebellion gradually gained control and and the result was that the locally ignited rebellion turned into an extended anti-Mobutu revolution. Laurent-Desire Kabila, a long-time opponent of Mobutu, emerged as the leader of the rebels and four dissident groups galvanized into the AFDL (Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo/Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire). The rebels took control over Shaba (the mineral-rich province in south-eastern DRC) and later moved closer and closer to the capital Kinshasa. The last phase occurred in May 1997 when Mobutu's regime collapsed. (47)
The First Congo War displayed enormous human suffering, rampage, massacre, and retaliation against the opponent's civilians. Atrocities were committed by local militias, be it the Hutu extremists (ex-FAR/Interahamwe) against the Congolese Tutsi, or the rebels against Hutu and other "alleged" opponents, military or civilian.
The cumulative effect of the Great Lakes crises on subsequent Congolese history was dramatic and the impoverished Congolese society was plunged into another civil war. Kabila's takeover of power was in fact due to the Banyamulenge/Congolese Tutsis' support and to the assistance of Rwandan and Ugandan armies. (48) It also benefited from tacit approval of the international community, since it was the anti-Mobutu struggle that prevailed in international perception, and not Laurent-Desire Kabila legitimacy per se. Very soon, though, he managed to antagonize all. Kabila's relations with the UN soon became strenuous. At the same time, he faced domestic dissatisfaction, as well as former supporters' (foreign and internal) discontent. Since his rebellion was dependent on the Banyamulenge and the armies of Rwanda and Uganda, "there was a reaction against these allies in Kinshasa and, in particular, resentment at the Tutsi" (49) and consequently things escalated. Kabila removed Tutsis "from top positions in the military" and the Banyamulenge started to retreat to south Kivu. (50) Rwanda understood the misachievements of Kabila, perceiving his fostering of anti-Tutsi feelings and his inability to end "the problem of border insecurity by neutralizing the insurgency groups threatening Uganda, Rwanda, and Angola from the Congo." (51) The Second Congo War was characterized by a fragmentation of military troops, emergence of other groups, and shifts in alliances. By 2000 the Rwandan and Ugandan forces were fighting among themselves and Kabila's government had no control over Congolese territory (with the exception of the western part). (52)
Framing (in)security and human displacement during the Great Lake crisis
According to Edward Newman, "refugee flows are demonstrably a source of international--mainly regional--conflict through causing instability in neighbouring countries, triggering intervention, and sometimes providing a basis for warrior refugee communities within camps that can form the source of insurgency, resistance, and terrorist movements." (53) Also, he argues that refugees are both a cause and a consequence of conflict. The crisis of the African Great Lakes is illustrative in both respects: the refugee camps in eastern Congo are associated with militarization and refugee manipulation and they represented the effect of the genocide in Rwanda and the triggering point of the wars in Congo.
The destabilization of eastern Congo not only plunged thousands of innocent civilians into acute insecurity, but also worsened inter-state relations in the region, because "[t]he camps in the DRC were a dangerous amalgam of fighters and civilians." (54) It has already been explained that when refugees "arrive with armed contingents that continue to fight on the host territory ("refugee warriors"), they invite retaliation and thus export the conflict from where they came." (55) The crisis had two major dimensions. On the one hand, it indicated how refugees become "resources of war" and how the Rwandan "genocide organizers and killers blended into the refugee camps" and exploited the crisis in order to attract humanitarian aid. (56) Also, it showed how in this case the refugee crisis was intertwined with refugee manipulation and "refugee militarization". According to the UNHCR reports, this episode was illustrative for "the changing nature of conflict, with internal and regional wars generating cross-border movements of mixed groups, including military elements" and for how militarized camps raised a huge threat to refugee insecurity. (57) On the other hand, the crisis had negative repercussions on the human insecurity of ethnic-Tutsis (Banyamulenge) living in eastern Zaire/Congo. The Banyamulenge had been living in the eastern part of Congo for a long time, but they had become dissatisfied with Mobutu's decision in 1981 to deprive them of Zairean citizenship. (58) The result was their rebellion in 1996. Since the post-genocide Rwandan leaders perceived the refugee camps as major threat, there was soon a coalescence of interests between them and the Banyamulenge.
The huge refugee flows during the Great Lakes crisis and the eruption of the cholera epidemic received ample media coverage and produced the flocking of hundreds of NGOs to the various refugee camps. (59) The international perception of the tragic event was centred on the association of refugees to genocide survivors, but, as Howard Adelman has shown, "ignorance of the conflict's history and the nature of its media coverage" led to compassionate Western publics who "overlooked the fact that this exodus included not only innocent refugees but also genocidal killers." (60) Adelman argued that inaccurate counts distorted the facts on the ground, created confusion about their causes and he concluded that "150,000 to 225,000 of the 900,000 total camp inhabitants were genocidal killers or their families." (61) Other authoritative reports also indicated that of the more than 1,5 milion Hutu Rwandese who had crossed the boundary from Rwanda 10 to 15 percent "were alleged to have participated directly in [the] mass killing." (62) The Interhamwe, ex-FAR and former Rwandan government leaders gained control over the camps, replicated their political and military structure, started arming and forcefully recruiting innocent camp residents with the purpose of launching an armed attack against the new authorities in Kigali. Very soon their "control was absolute", they managed to establish a "quasi state in the refugee camps in Zaire" [...] "killed those who disobeyed" and "created an atmosphere of permanent insecurity." (63) Terrorizing and inducing insecurity were the main elements of the Interhamwe/ ex-FAR's modus operandi and the intimidation of refugees who wanted repatriation to Rwanda prevailed. Through force, fear and "and resource control, the militia managed to ensure that only limited numbers returned." (64) Certain analysts concluded that
"Donor governments and related UN agencies hesitated at becoming involved in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, with horrifying consequences. When they finally stepped in with relief for refugees and murderers fleeing the scene, donors and UN organizations were paralyzed by the realization that their support caused as much harm as good in the absence of an effective sorting process to weed out perpetrators of the genocide from genuine refugees in the camps. Meanwhile, the perpetrators planned their next move from (then) Zaire with the material and tacit political aid of UN agencies." (65)
Other voices were critically indicating that the "international community was also complicit in facilitating the arming of the Hutu extremists: despite the ample evidence of the genocidaires' regrouping, UN arms embargoes were never enforced on them." (66) No concrete action came from the international community to stop the control and manipulation of humanitarian aid or to demilitarize the camps.
Meanwhile, life in the camps was torture, many refugees dispersed within the eastern Congolese forests attempting to stay alive and to find a way to get back to Rwanda. (67) Throughout the crisis "aid agencies faced appalling dilemmas such as whether to continue feeding women and children knowing they were also feeding killers; whether to tell the world what they knew about the [...] atrocities in the rain forests at the risk of jeopardizing ongoing operations to save still living refugees." (68)
The Great Lake crisis revealed how refugees could turn into "resources of war" and how military groups abused the status of non-combatants (69) benefiting from their media portrayal of refugees. Adelman pinpointed that "central issues in this crisis were the need to separate the refugee warriors from the genuine refugees, to end impunity for the genocidaires, and to prevent them from using bases in Zaire to attack Rwanda." (70)
At this point we shall discuss elements of discursive approaches on security, starting from the Copenhagen School's speech act framework. The central argument presented here is that the media coverage and the discursive construction of threat, insecurity, and need for indiscriminate aid for refugee camps during the African Great Lakes crisis distorted facts and misled international understanding of the crisis.
The Copenhagen School scholars coined the concept of securitization and analyzed security as a speech act. Securitization is the process of making an issue a 'security' issue. The securitization process transfers issues from 'normal' (accountable/democratic) politics to 'emergency' politics. Therefore, securitization refers to the following core feature of security: "the way in which threats are discursively tackled and presented." (71) The concept entails the construction of threats following a "grammar of security" (in Barry Buzan's terms) which indicates "an existential threat, a point of no return, and a possible way out." (72) The essence of the securitization idea is that no issue is a threat per se, but that "anything could be constructed as one." (73) The twin concept desecuritization focuses on "moving out of security" (74) or "the shifting of issues out of emergency mode and into the normal bargaining process of the political sphere"; Barry Buzan argues that this is the "optimal long-range solution." (75) As Huysmans observed, "the speech act of security draws upon a historically constituted and socially institutionalized set of meanings." (76)
According to the Copenhagen School, securitization studies "aim to gain an increasingly precise understanding of who securitizes, on what issues (threats), for whom (referent objects), why, with what results, and, not least, under what conditions (that is, what explains when securitization is successful). (77) According to such an approach, securitising the issue of refugees does not lead to positive outcomes for the human rights of such people. Jef Huysmans stresses that "the securitization of immigration or refugees depends on instituting credible claims that they are an important factor endangering the survival of political units." (78)
The ample media coverage of the humanitarian crisis in the African Great Lakes was based on the reports of international NGOs in the region and was doubled by Western political speeches. In his Securitization as Migration, Philippe Bourbeau explores the role of two securitizing agents, political and media, and "understands the relationship between agents and contextual factors as mutually constituted, durable but not static, generative, and structured", building on a constructivist perspective that shows how "linguistic utterances are always produced in particular contexts and that the social properties of these contexts endow speech acts with a differential value system." (79) By showing that "insecurity is a politically and socially constructed phenomenon", Jef Huysmans demonstrates that "before an event can mobilize security policies and rhetoric, it needs to be conceived of as a question of insecurity and this conception needs to be sustained by discursively reiterating its threatening qualities." (80)
International media coverage of the African Great Lakes refugee crisis was centred on all encompassing massive group of displaced individuals, without mentioning the presence of the bulk of former genocidaires and without having presented an extensive account on the causes, dynamic, and immediate aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda. In this way, the media portrayal of refugees did not distinguish between the genuine victims and the "refugee warriors", but instead constructed a monolithic image of displaced people trying to escape the genocide and facing death in the camps due to the epidemics. Western media operated as a securitizing agent and the discursive construction which led to misunderstanding of the variations of human suffering was "tacitly encouraged" by reports of many relief organizations. (81) In fact, the particular context in which the insecurity of innocent displaced prevailed included not only widespread disease in the camps, but also people being used as human shields by the former genocidaires and fleeing into the Congolese dense woods to escape retaliation from combatant refugees. The whole speech act centred on this refugee crisis (produced by both Western political discourses and media reports) underscored threats and insecurities that were selective and partially accurate. Howard Adelman argued that in the absence of UNSC forceful intervention "to separate the warriors from refugees, UNHCR indulged in a bit of bureaucratic delusion: it redefined the problem in the camps as one of generalized insecurity for refugees and aid workers, a problem that could be addressed with far fewer resources than the real problem of warrior control of the camps." (82) An accurate understanding of insecurity in refugee camps based in eastern Zaire/Congo should have been framed and supported by discursively reiterating the various threatening qualities of the specific context. The various threatening qualities included intimidation, killing, military recruitment, gendered violence and conditioning of humanitarian aid for the genuine refugees.
In order to mobilize relief aid and to legitimize limited action to address the multiple threats the innocent refugees faced, the UN securitized the issue of refugees, but overlooked the distinction between the provider of insecurity and the referents of securitization. According to Huysmans, "language has both the capacity to integrate events in a wider network of meanings and to mobilize certain expectations and reactions to an event. This constitutive power of language does not depend on influencing perceptions but rather follows from the fact that certain words and discourses carry particular connotations and historical meanings that they invest in social reality." (83) In the case of the African Great Lakes refugee crisis, the linguistic utterances pinpointed to an array of meanings reportedly associated with "the fate of all refugees" who faced a large humanitarian catastrophe, but the events were integrated in a an erroneous network of meanings, because, as Adelman argued, the "reports did not indicate that many of the refugees were being killed because they were used as shields for the militants or for refusing to accompany the genocidaires." (84) The "worst humanitarian catastrophe" discourse was loaded with particular historical correlations and linked to specific expectations, but, according to Howard Adelman, the "media misleading information" produced a "humanitarian hysteria." (85)
Our main conclusion is that refugee camps are not a single-shaped story and do not display a unitary, self-replicating humanitarian tragedy. Also, the main argument is that the refugee crisis in the African Great Lakes showed that accurate knowledge on the background of the humanitarian emergency, strong will of the UN to properly address the matter, and non-selective and in-depth media coverage are needed.
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Laura M. Herta *
* Laura M. Herta holds a PhD in History and is currently Lecturer in International Relations within the Department of International Relations and American Studies, Faculty of European Studies and member of the Centre for African Studies (Babes-Bolyai University). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Michael Chege, "The Great Lakes Crises", in African Studies Quarterly, Vol. 1, Issue 3, 1997, p. 2.
(2) DRC or Congo (the Republic of) was formerly known as Congo-Kinshasa (up to the moment the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko seized power). It was renamed Zaire by Mobutu and, after his removal in 1997, the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
(3) The United Nations Development Programme, [http://www.africa.undp.org/], consulted in January 2014.
(4) Arthur C. Helton, The Price of Indifference. Refugees and Humanitarian Action in the New Century, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 21.
(5) Cf. Alhaji M. S. Bah, "The Making of the Rwandan Genocide and the Future Protection of Civilians in Africa", in John Laband (ed.), Daily Lives of Civilians in Wartime Africa: from slavery days to Rwandan genocide, Westport, Connecticut, London: Greenwood Press, 2007, p. 253.
(6) Nicholas Wheeler, "Global Bystander to Genocide: International Society and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994", in Nicholas Wheeler, Saving Strangers. Humanitarian Intervention in International Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 208-241.
(7) Ibidem, p. 212.
(8) xxx (2007), "Great Lakes Chronology", in Refugees Magazine, Issue 110 (Crisis in the Great Lakes), December 1997, [http://www.unhcr.org/3b69278116.html], consulted in February 2014.
(9) Wheeler, op. cit., p. 212.
(10) Victoria Passant, "The Great Lakes Refugee Crisis and the Dilemma of Contemporary Humanitarianism", in POLIS Journal, Vol. 2, Winter 2009, University of Leeds, p. 6.
(11) Howard Adelman, "The Use and Abuse of Refugees in Zaire", in Stephen John Stedman; Fred Tanner (eds.), Refugee Manipulation. War, Politics, and the Abuse of Human Suffering, Brookings Institution Press, 2003, p. 95.
(12) Wheeler, op. cit., p. 212; Gerard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide, London: Hurst & Co., 1995, pp. 128-129, 224; Gerald Caplan, "Rwanda: Walking the Road to Genocide", in Allan Thompson (ed.), The Media and the Rwanda Genocide, London: Pluto Press, 2007, pp. 20-37.
(13) Nir Kalron, "The Great Lakes of Confusion", in African Security Review, Issue 19:2, 2010, p. 28. See also Allan Thompson (ed.), The Media and the Rwanda Genocide, London: Pluto Press, 2007.
(14) Romeo Dallaire, "The Media Dichotomy", in Thompson (ed.), op. cit., p. 12. An overview of the development of hate media in Rwanda and the international community's failure to respond to genocide is provided by Alison Des Forges, senior advisor to Human Rights Watch's Africa Division; see Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch, 1999 and Alison Des Forges, "Call to Genocide: Radio in Rwanda, 1994", in Thompson (ed.), op. cit., pp. 41-54.
(15) For details regarding the efforts of Romeo Dallaire, see Caplan, op. cit., p. 25; Wheeler, op. cit., pp. 215-217; Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, pp. 20-21.
(16) Wheeler, op. cit., pp. 217-218.
(17) Tatiana Carayannis; Herbert F. Weiss, "The Democratic Republic of the Congo, 19962002", in Jane Boulden (ed.), Dealing with Conflict in Africa: The United Nations and Regional Organizations, Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 256.
(18) Helton, op. cit., p. 146.
(19) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 256.
(20) Caplan, op. cit., p. 28.
(21) Wheeler, op. cit., pp. 231-232.
(22) Prunier, op. cit., p. 285.
(23) Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, p. 510.
(24) Helton, op. cit., p. 148.
(25) Prunier, op. cit., p. 281. See also, Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, p. 511; Chege, op. cit., p. 2.
(26) Helton, op. cit., p. 147.
(27) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 257.
(28) Cf. Caplan, op. cit., p. 28.
(29) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 257.
(30) Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda, p. 24.
(31) Wheeler, op. cit., p. 237.
(32) Caplan, op. cit., pp. 28-29.
(33) For details, see Phoebe N. Okowa, "Congo's War: the Legal Dimension of a Protracted Conflict", British Yearbook of International Law, vol. 77, 2007, pp. 203-255.
(34) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 257.
(35) Wheeler, op. cit., p. 237.
(36) See Laura M. Herta, "Intra-State Violence in DR Congo and Human Security-Perspectives from International Relations", in Human Security Perspectives, Volume 10 (2014), Issue 1, University of Graz, pp. 186-218.
(37) EU Security and Defence. Core documents, vol. VII (compiled by Catherine Gliere), Institute for Security Studies, European Union, Paris, 2006, 115.
(38) Guy Arnold, Historical Dictionary of Civil Wars in Africa, The Scarecrow Press, 2008, p. 236.
(39) William Reno, Warlord Politics and African States, Boulder, London, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998, pp. 160-161.
(40) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 259.
(41) Ibidem, p. 257.
(43) Ibidem, p. 258.
(44) Arnold, op. cit., p. 414.
(45) Herta, op. cit., p. 193.
(46) Carayannis; Weiss, p. 261.
(47) Ibidem, pp. 260-261.
(48) Arnold, op. cit., p. 98.
(49) Ibidem, p. 98.
(51) Carayannis; Weiss, op. cit., p. 270.
(52) Arnold, op. cit., p. 100.
(53) Edward Newman, "Refugees, international security, and human vulnerability: Introduction and survey", in Edward Newman; Joanne van Selm (eds.), Refugees and forced displacement: International security, human vulnerability, and the state, Tokyo, New York, Paris: The United Nations University Press, 2003, p. 5.
(54) Helton, op. cit., p. 22.
(55) See Astri Suhrke, "Human security and the protection of refugees", in Edward Newman; Joanne van Selm (eds.), Refugees and forced displacement: International security, human vulnerability, and the state, Tokyo, New York, Paris: The United Nations University Press, 2003, p. 97.
(56) Stephen John Stedman; Fred Tanner, "Refugees as Resources in War", in Stephen John Stedman; Fred Tanner (eds.), Refugee Manipulation. War, Politics, and the Abuse of Human Suffering, Brookings Institution Press, 2003, pp. 2-3.
(57) UNHCR, The Security, Civilian and Humanitarian Character of Refugee Camps and Settlements: Operationalizing the "Ladder of Options", Doc. EC/50/SC/INF.4, 27 June 2000, available at [http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a54bc040.html].
(58) Arnold, op. cit., p. 414.
(59) See Passant, op. cit., p. 7.
(60) Howard Adelman, "The Use and Abuse of Refugees in Zaire", in Stephen John Stedman; Fred Tanner (eds.), Refugee Manipulation. War, Politics, and the Abuse of Human Suffering, Brookings Institution Press, 2003, p. 96.
(61) Ibidem, p. 99.
(62) See Des Forges, op. cit.
(63) Adelman, op. cit., pp. 102-103.
(64) Passant, op. cit., p. 8.
(65) Jennifer Hyndman, Managing Displacement. Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism, Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2000, p. xxvi.
(66) Adelman, op. cit., p. 104.
(67) See testimonies of former refugees in Beatriz Gonzalez, "A decade on the run: Rwandan refugees' life mirrors the tumult of Africa's Great Lakes", in News Stories, 26 October 2006, UNHCR, [http://www.unhcr.org/4540c03e4.html], rconsulted in February 2014
(68) Ray Wilkinson, "Cover Story: Heart of Darkness", in Refugees Magazine, Issue 110 (Crisis in the Great Lakes), December 1997, [http://www.unhcr.org/3b6925384.html], consulted in February 2014.
(69) Cf. Stedman; Tanner, op. cit., pp. 4-5.
(70) Adelman, op. cit., p. 127. See also Hyndman, op. cit., p. xxvi; Helton, op. cit., p. 22.
(71) Jonathan Bright, "Securitization, terror, and control: towards a theory of the breaking point", in Review of International Studies, October 2012, 38: 4, p. 863.
(72) Barry Buzan; Ole Waever; Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1998, p. 33.
(73) Bright, op. cit., p. 866.
(74) Lene Hansen, "Reconstructing desecuritization: the normative-political in the Copenhagen School and directions for how to apply it", in Review of International Studies, July 2012, 38:3, p. 526.
(75) Buzan; Waever; de Wilde, op. cit., pp. 4, 29.
(76) Jef Huysmans, The Politics of Insecurity. Fear, Migration and Asylum in the EU, London and New York: Routledge, 2006, 25.
(77) Buzan; Waever; de Wilde, op. cit., p. 32.
(78) Huysmans, op. cit., p. 47.
(79) Philippe Bourbeau, The Securitization of Migration. A study of movement and order, London, New York: Routledge, 2011, pp. 2-3.
(80) Huysmans, op. cit., pp. 2, 7.
(81) Stedman; Tanner, op. cit., p. 1.
(82) Adelman, op. cit., p. 102.
(83) Huysmans, op. cit., p. 8.
(84) Adelman, op. cit., p. 121.
(85) Ibidem, pp. 120-122, 127.
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