KANOMBE - Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) yesterday received equipment worth US$20 million from the United States (US) government to empower the army’s peacekeeping interventions.
The equipment was handed over to the Minister of Defence, Marcel Gatsinzi by the Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Kigali, Cheryl Jane Sim.
The equipment comprises 250 commercial, military support, and engineering vehicles, material handling and navigation equipment, radio communication kits, close to 100 trailers, and water treatment plants among others.
Rwandan military officials said that these materials are a significant boost to RDF’s peacekeeping efforts in the troubled region of Darfur and in any other of their peacekeeping interventions.
“I wish to assure you that this equipment will make a difference in the RDF performance in support of peace operations in the designated area,” said Gatsinzi after receiving the equipment at the army’s General Headquarters in Kanombe.
The donation is part of the US government’s assistance to empower its partner nations participate in multinational peace support operations. Through this arrangement known as the African Contingent Operations Assistance (ACOTA), Rwanda’s peacekeeping troops have also been receiving training in American institutions and provided with strategic airlift means to peace mission areas.
The US envoy said that the equipment delivered to Rwanda will help RDF troops in their Darfur mission under the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission.
“It is my great pleasure to be here today for the presentation of over 20 million dollars’ worth equipment and transportation support to aid RDF troops serving in the UNAMID,” Sim said, adding that the equipment was pledged by President Bush during his visit in February.
She said that the president announced his pledge to assist those involved in the Darfur peacekeeping mission. She lauded Rwandan troops on their peacekeeping techniques and behavior.
“We, at the US Mission in Kigali, believe the RDF sets an international standard in terms of skills, discipline and commitment to the mission. The United States is glad to stand in strong partnership with the Government of Rwanda to promote peace and regional stability,” she said.
The UN-African Union force currently faces vital lack of equipment according to reports of human rights groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Darfur.
But Rwanda’s military officials believe that the equipment they received yesterday will significantly waive the challenges to peace support on the African continent.
President Paul Kagame had said last month that if the international community could not come up with the required equipment for the peacekeepers, Rwanda would see to it that its troops in Darfur are catered for.
“Peace and security have to a large extent continued to elude the African continent,” said General Gatsinzi.
“This equipment will be dedicated to maintain peace and stability in the region where RDF is involved.” The handover was also witnessed by the UNAMID deputy force commander, Rwanda’s Maj. Gen Karenzi Karake.
Rwanda has close to 3000 peacekeeping troops in Darfur. The mission is mainly composed of soldiers and police personnel.