US Embassy Rwanda Remembers 25 FSNs Killed in the 1994 Genocide

On April 12, 2012, the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda had its 18th Genocide Commemoration for the 25 Foreign Service National (FSN) employees of the U.S. Embassy and USAID who were killed in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. During this annual occasion, the Embassy staff in Kigali meets with the orphans and members of the families of the fallen employees who lost their lives in 1994.

US Embassy staff with Genocide orphans and members of the families of embassy employees who perished during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide
(Photo from US Embassy Rwanda taken during the April 14, 2010 memorial ceremony).

Below is an excerpt from the April 12 remarks by Ambassador Donald Koran:

We are here to share, as a community, our sorrow, our memories, and our losses, and we are here to gain strength from our colleagues and friends.  We are not here to dwell on the past, but to pay our respects to those who are no longer with us, and to honor those who remain with us today.  Our thoughts and support go out to the families of our fallen colleagues, to the orphans, widows and widowers.  And to those colleagues who worked at their side.  We offer you our gratitude.

As I tried to prepare for today, I found it difficult to think of what I could say to you.  I can’t presume to even begin to understand the magnitude of the losses you suffered, or of your feelings today, 18 years after this unimaginable tragedy.  What I can offer, however, is one outsider’s perspective on the amazing renaissance I see in you.  I have seen how much you have accomplished in such a short time.  I think it is fitting that the theme of this year’s commemoration is “to learn from history to shape a bright future.”  I can see this bright future today, in a way that I did not yet see it 10 years ago when I last served here.
[…]
Let me speak now to the young men and women here today who are the children of our Embassy colleagues, whose parents were felled in the genocide.  Your drive and determination, and your desire to move forward and live strong, meaningful lives is your personal victory against the shadows of the past.  It is a victory for all Rwandans who share the dream of an enduring peace.  You are the foundation of the bright future  that all Rwandans seek.  Some of you are still pursuing your studies, others have already graduated.   I salute you for your resolve to be the generation that fashions a new Rwanda for yourselves and for the generations that come after you.

The United States supports your commitment, and the commitment of everyone here, to build a Rwanda where peace, stability and prosperity reign.  I can think of no more fitting way to honor those lost in Rwanda 18 years ago, and to pay tribute to the survivors.  All Rwandans, no matter where you were in 1994, lost something in those horrible 100 days.  But here you are.  You  are a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit.

Read in full here.

An OIG report indicates there were over 38,000 FSNs/LE staff members working for the Department overseas in 2007.  A more recent number puts the State Department total workforce number at over 66,000, including foreign service, civil service, and locally employed staff (LE staff) worldwide.  As of September 30, 2010, Foreign Service Nationals or Locally employed staff  (LES) composed 56% of the State Department’s total workforce (via GAO).

Also, since 1998, far more FSNs/LE staff members have been killed in the line of duty than have American Foreign Service employees (via OIG). We thought we should mention that.

Domani Spero

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US Mission Iraq: No Iraqi Visas Issued to USG Security Personnel Since December?

The Iraq Travel Warning dated January 19, 2012 saysthat “the ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.”

Apparently the “extremely limited” response even includes the issuance of visas for USG security personnel in Iraq.

In our mailbox is the following email:

“No visas have been issued to security personnel since December and there is no straight answer coming from the Department of State or the Ministry of Interior.”

One of our correspondents is concerned that this situation “will result in loss of life” as their “ability to protect continues to be compromised.”

The State Department’s current Travel Warning says that“The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S.

US State Department contract security, Interna...

US State Department contract security, International (Green) Zone, Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador must follow strict safety procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.”

If so, how does the “strict security” guidelines and “strict safety procedures” work if the protective security details are missing due to the sticky wheel on the visa bus?

On February 8, 2012 WaPo reported that the US Embassy Baghdad compound was locked down for nearly all of December out of security concerns, and the vast majority of U.S. personnel rarely leave its confines.

“U.S. trainers for middle- and senior-level police officials, located for convenience across the street from Iraq’s national police headquarters and police academy, have been unable to cross that street without heavy security and have largely ceased any outside movement.”

One can only hope that they are not in permanent lock down as they’re rightsizing.  We understand that the US Mission in Baghdad was expected to have 16,000 personnel.  About 2,000 are reportedly diplomats and 14,000 are private security and life support contractors.

How much of the expected 5,000-7,000 security personnel made it to Iraq before the visa clamp down came down in December?  And if true that no visas had been issued to USG security personnel since December, how is that impacting the mobility and security of our embassy personnel? Has it been in lock down since the military left?

We have reached out to the US Embassy Baghdad on the visa issue last week and will update this post if we ever get a response. We say if because we’ve had very limited success in getting a response even from their Press Office, except on the few occasion when somebody there had a personal blog to plug in.

If you’re reading this from Baghdad, we’d like to hear if you’ve been forced to telecommute from the bunker due to limited availability of personal security support.

Domani Spero