Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rearranges the flower on a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda, on Thursday. More than 250,000 victims of the genocide against the Tutsi have been buried in a mass grave at the memorial. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)
The site contains the remains of more than 250,000 Rwandan Tutsis who were slaughtered by Hutu extremists in the spring and summer of 1994.
Former Canadian general — later Liberal senator — Romeo Dallaire, who was an early backer of Trudeau, led the peacekeeping mission that failed to prevent the genocide.
More than one million Tutsis lost their lives across the country in the organized campaign that stretched over 100 days.
The prime minister paid his respects as Commonwealth leaders gathered in Kigali to discuss, among other things, human rights and increasing food insecurity on the African continent.
On Thursday, Trudeau announced Canada would contribute an additional $250 million toward the United Nations World Food Program, on top of $500 million that was already earmarked. It is likely going to be welcome news among African Commonwealth leaders, especially in light of a recent International Monetary Fund report this spring that warned soaring fuel and food prices will lead to instability in Africa.
Rwanda’s genocide memorial contains not only the remains of victims, but also photographs and personal items.
Trudeau was greeted by the executive director of the centre and had an opportunity to speak with a survivor of the genocide.
It was a visit heavy with political and perhaps even personal significance, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau laid a wreath on Thursday at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda. By Murray Brewster
« What happened here in Rwanda 28 years ago resonates not only every day for Rwandans, but resonates around the world, as well, as something that we all have to be vigilant on, » Trudeau told reporters. « We all have to be there, to make sure the road never gets walked again, anywhere else in the world. »
Many of the victims’ names have yet to be gathered and documented, and many of the victims who rest in the graves are unknown.
Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, paid a visit to the site on Wednesday.
After also laying a wreath, Charles — the first member of the Royal Family to visit the country — met Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who played a major role in the military victory that ended the genocide.
Trudeau was to meet separately with Kagame on Thursday, but the bilateral was postponed to later in the Commonwealth meeting.
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