Some 1,200 military personnel from 26 countries on Wednesday started drills meant to help them improve their ability carry out joint operations during peacekeeping missions.
The annual military exercise that brings together US forces and other partner nations is known as the Shared Accord.
During the opening ceremony at the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, reiterated that Rwanda remains committed to contributing to achieving global peace and security.
“It is in this regard that we participate in UN missions where our troops not only support attainment of sustainable peace and security in affected countries but also have been at the forefront in advocating for necessary improvements in UN peacekeeping modus operandi focusing more on the protection of civilians,” Nyamvumba noted.
According to UN figures, Rwanda is the second largest contributor of troops in UN peacekeeping missions in the world. The country has 6,546 military and police personnel on peacekeeping missions in different countries.
“The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians which were developed in 2015 in Rwanda are being widely implemented by peacekeeping contributors,” he added.
Women role in peacekeeping
Nyamvumba emphasised the importance of involving women in peacekeeping operations.
“We have to ensure that women are fully involved in peacekeeping operations. Each of us can contribute to this by ensuring that women’s issues are really at the heart of the agenda, not a mere slogan,” he said. “This would give us an opportunity to give our full contribution to international peace and security.”
Held under the theme Partnership for Peace and Stability, the Shared Accord seeks to enhance bilateral and regional relationships in austere environments among participating partners, as well as help build partnership among participants.
It is also designed to improve their capability to respond to regional security threats.
The exercise includes scenarios related to conducting peacekeeping operations during the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR).
This is the second time this exercise is being conducted in Rwanda after another successful in August last year.
Last year, the event only featured a command post and medical readiness exercises.
The number of participating countries increased from 15 last year.
The exercise Co-Director, Brig Gen Lapthe C Flora (USA, said that UN peacekeeping missions remain an important tool for peace and security.
He noted that they intend to work with all partners towards the attainment of shares goals in enhancing peace and security.
“Our aim is also sharing ideas and problem solving of current and future joint enterprises. Continued regional cooperation adds to all efforts aimed at enhancing international peace and security.”
Belinda Jackson Farrier, Charge d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kigali expressed her government’s appreciation of Rwanda’s important role in international peacekeeping.
She said: “The US is fully committed to work with Rwanda and other nations present here to pursue that goal.”
The exercise is being conducted by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), the United States Military, several African nations, the European Union and other international organizations, from today Wednesday till end month.