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Sainte Famille Church

Kigali, Rwanda

Sainte Famille Church

Ste. Famille, the Holy Family, is a church located in downtown Kigali, the national capital. It must have seemed like the ideal sanctuary to people whose lives were at risk. And indeed when the violence broke out on 7 April, following the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana, some residents of troubled districts of Kigali fled to the church immediately. Authorities, in more than a few cases priests, deliberately deceived the victims into thinking they would find sanctuary in a church. Thousands at a time were crammed into the small spaces: 20,000 people managed to try and seek sanctuary at Sainte Famille.

Many of the early arrivals were Hutus – including members of the political opposition who knew instantly what the death of Habyarimana would mean for their security, and one member of a large group of over 400 Hutus who were forced out of their homes in Gisozi, Greater Kigali. But Tutsis also came in droves, and they came from all the surrounding areas.


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