Alison Des Forges, who died on 12 February 2009 in a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, combined great compassion, dedicated activism and intellectual rigour in her advocacy for human rights in Rwanda. She started work at Human Rights Watch in the early 1990s and sounded the alarm ahead of Rwanda's catastrophe. During the genocide of 1994, she worked determinedly to persuade international organisations and governments to intervene to stop the killing. 'While the massacres were raging outside, I was hiding in the attic of my house. Alison made me believe I'd survive despite the horror surrounding me. That's what saved me,' wrote Monique Mujawamariya, who escaped the genocide thanks to Des Forges's intervention.
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