Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rwanda Defense Force Sends Peacekeepers to South Sudan

Rwanda: RDF Peacekeepers Head to South Sudan

By James Karuhanga, 11 April 2012

One hundred and fifty Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) peacekeepers left Kigali International Airport aboard a Rwandair plane this morning on their way to the world's new state of South Sudan.

Rwanda which has over 3,200 peacekeepers deployed in western Sudan's volatile region of Darfur is set to deploy a total 850 peacekeepers in South Sudan under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the newest UN peacekeeping mission for the recently independent South Sudan.

UNMISS was established on July 8, 2011 by UN Security Council Resolution 1996 (2011).

South Sudan became independent on July 9, last year.

Seeing the troops off, the RDF Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Lieutenant General Charles Kayonga, emphasized that the UN requested for Rwanda's deployment in South Sudan because of the former's vast and commendable peacekeeping experience.

"We have done a good job and the UN thus decided that they needed us in that other place. This means they have expectations from us," Lt. Gen. Kayonga told the troops minutes before they were airborne.

"However, for us, there is another major reason why we opted to serve in these missions. The reason is based on the Rwandan Constitution but it also has roots in our culture of not abandoning those in need."

"We have an experience of being abandoned as we were once abandoned, as a nation, during times of difficulty. We were abandoned in 1994. But for us, we are not going to abandon others. I request you to work as you did in 1994 when you stopped the Genocide and liberated this country."

The Rwandan contingent will deploy in several regions of Central Equatoria state, including the capital of South Sudan - Juba, where they will protect key UN facilities.

The Rwandan force is replacing a contingent from Bangladesh.

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