Human rights organizations provided some of the most important information about the on-going genocide to the public and policymakers. The international media did not highlight the intentional killing of civilians; they instead emphasized the civil war.
When the genocide began, members of the international community in Rwanda evacuated. The UN and the five permanent member-nations of its Security Council all downplayed the level of violence directed against civilians in order to avoid any obligation to respond.
Only a few international humanitarian aid organizations stayed on the ground during the genocide. They undertook heroic efforts to provide medical care.
After the genocide ended, a large-scale international aid effort began for the approximately 2 million refugees who fled to neighboring countries and desperately needed food, shelter, and medical care. While the aid saved many civilian lives, organizations failed to prevent the perpetrators of the genocide from reorganizing and launching attacks back into Rwanda.
Within days of the start of the Rwandan genocide, the UN Security Council voted to reduce the UN peacekeeping force in that country from 2,500 to 270 soldiers. With limited personnel and equipment, a weak mandate, and no outside support, the peacekeepers were severely handicapped.
The civil war and genocide only ended when the Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), defeated the Hutu perpetrator regime.
On November 8, 1994, the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania. On September 2, 1998, the ICTR delivered the first-ever conviction for genocide when it judged Jean-Paul Akayesu guilty of inciting and leading acts of violence against Tutsi civilians in the town where he served as mayor.