In 1994, long-simmering civil unrest in the African nation of Rwanda -- where ruling officials belonging to the Hutu group were challenged by the Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front -- was threatening to erupt into widespread violence when the United Nations sent a peace-keeping force to the nation, which was ordered to enforce a treaty that would halt the fighting between the two factions. However, when it quickly became obvious that the treaty was, for practical purposes, a sham, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian leader of the UN's 800-man peace-keeping force, learned his troops were all but powerless to do anything to help. Failed actions in Somalia and Yugoslavia had made the United Nations wary of becoming too deeply involved in Rwanda, and as Dallaire and his men begged for additional troops and materiel to deal with the growing crisis (and the authority to clean out weapons caches the Rwandese Patriotic Front had assembled), they found themselves foiled on every turn. The world's major military powers saw no financial or political advantage to getting involved in the crisis in Rwanda, so they refused to help, and as a result, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered. Dallaire regarded this as a predictable and preventable act of genocide
executed by the Hutu-controlled government against Hutu oppositionists and Tutsis...a massacre he could only watch without being able to help. Nearly ten years after the tragedy in Rwanda, Dallaire returned to the nation to see what was left of the country he tried to protect; Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire is a documentary which follows him as he discusses the massacre of Rwanda, what could have been done, and how the horrific experience has changed his life. The genocide in Rwanda also provides the basis for the acclaimed dramatic feature Hotel Rwanda (2004), in which a fictional character based on Roméo Dallaire is played by Nick Nolte.