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Israeli Support Group to Extend Help to War-stressed Rwandans

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An Israeli support group for Holocaust survivors and their children will help Rwandans cope with the psychological effects of last year’s genocide of more than 500,000 of their people.

Rwanda’s ambassador to Israel, Zac Nsanga, said the group – knows as AMCHA – would participate in a Nov. 1 conference on genocide to be held in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The conference is expected to draw experts from around the world.

More than 500,000 people, most of them members of the minority Tutsi tribe, were murdered by rival Hutus during the months of civil violence in Rwanda that erupted in April 1994.

In the summer of 1994, the Israeli army flew a mobile field hospital to eastern Zaire in order to treat hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees.

AMCHA director John Limberger said that although it is impossible to draw straight parallels between the Holocaust and the slaughter in Rwanda, it is important to do something now to address the issue openly – something not done during the Holocaust, “when no one else cared.”

He said the group hoped to share its expertise in dealing with post-traumatic stress.

“In addition to dealing with displaced persons, widows, orphans and relocation, the government should also take on the psychological effects of the genocide, to prevent some of the things that will happen down the road,” he told Israel Radio.

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