The Security Council voted early today to send more than five thousand peacekeepers to Rwanda to try to stem "a humanitarian crisis of enormous proportions."
The all-African force protects civilians and relief workers in areas where aid is being provided to the thousands suffering and displaced after a month of slaughter.
But the peacekeepers will not be allowed to use force to stop the fighting or to prevent massacres in areas outside their control, and it could take months for member states to contribute the troops and proper military equipment.
The U.S. delegation had doubts about the operation and reluctantly supported a resolution launching it only under pressure from other Security Council members anxious to try to prevent further bloodshed.
An estimated 200,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in a month of ethnic slaughter between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, the United Nations and aid groups say. Nearly 2 million people have fled.
Human rights organizations and aid workers blame militias led by extremist Hutu politicians for most of the slaughter, much of it done with machetes, spears and knives after the president, a Hutu, died in a mysterious plane crash.
Bringing the dispute into the council chambers, the Tutsi-dominated rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front announced it would not comply with the resolution if Foreign Minister Jerome Bicamumpaka sat in Rwanda's Security Council seat. Bicamumpaka spoke to the council, blaming Tutsis for the violence, and remained in his seat for the vote.
Bicamumpaka said an arms embargo should be slapped on neighboring Uganda, which he accused of supplying the rebels.