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 ‘Irish’ O’Halloran joined the Army and has served on four operational tours of duty, all in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps (RAInf ); two with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) and two with the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR). He retired from the Army in 2011 after 30 years’ service.