The central African nation of Rwanda kicked off a week of events to remember one of the worst genocides in world history.
On Monday, a candlelight vigil of national mourning was held to mark 15 years since the genocide claimed the lives of 800,000 people. Ceremonies were held in the capital city of Kigali, and in Nyanza, where more than 5,000 people were slaughtered, BBC News reports. At a stadium in Kigali, thousands of candles spelled out the word "hope" in three languages.
Ensuring that such a crisis never occurs again is the “collective responsibility” of the world, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"Only by meeting this challenge can we match the resolve of the survivors and truly honor the memory of those who died in Rwanda 15 years ago," he said. "The resounding voices of survivors touch us in ways that no other words could. Yet the silence of the more 800,000 innocent victims still haunts our collective conscience."
President Barack Obama said the genocide was "so enormous, so daunting, that it runs the risk of becoming a statistic." Everyone who died in this massacre had "their own story, their own family, and their own dreams" and that remembering such events deepened the commitment to prevent "future atrocities." Obama praised the "courageous" survivors, who "demonstrated remarkable strength and generosity in forgiving those who committed these heinous acts." He added, "These individuals inspire us daily by working to restore trust and rebuild hope in Rwanda.”
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