DARFUR - Rwanda Defense Force peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan, have introduced the monthly homegrown community work Umuganda, aimed mostly at protecting the environment.
They were joined by colleagues from other countries in cleaning up El fasher main Market, car park and the bridge.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday evening, Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, the commander of the world’s biggest peacekeeping force - the joint United Nations - African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said this was one way of giving back to the community.
“Peacekeeping is not just about overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement. These initiatives are also part of the peacekeeping process; this is one of the many initiatives the Rwandan peacekeepers have introduced, the other significant one is the economic stoves,” said Nyamvumba.
On the current security situation in the troubled Sudanese region, Nyamvumba said it was ‘relatively calm but unpredictable’.
“The situation is unpredictable because there has been little commitment with regards to the peace process, but we can’t base on that prediction to determine the future,” said Nyamvumba.
He added that for Darfur to achieve peace, there was need to bring all the concerned parties together and come up with a genuine commitment to restore peace.
“Not until the political issues are brought on the table can one say that there is a peaceful and secure Darfur in the near future.”
Nyamvumba added that there is need for an ‘all-inclusive’ political process, and that the current fragmented groups are one of the reasons that have hindered the implementation of the peace agreement.
Ever since its establishment, the UNAMID peacekeeping force has been challenged by lack of logistical equipment, and according Nyamvumba, contingent-owned equipment come through Port Sudan which is 2000km away from the main military bases.
“There is still lack of enablers and force multipliers. The area of operation has poor infrastructure, that is why there is urgent need to address the problem of air mobility,” Gen Nyamvumba noted.
He praised the contribution of the entire force in restoring peace, saying that there is a great job being done in Darfur.
The commander particularly applauded the contribution of Rwanda in serving humanity, saying that considering where the country came from in the past 15 years, it has registered great achievements in terms of peacekeeping.
Despite the progress made by the force in restoring peace in Darfur, some militia groups still launch ambushes on the peacekeeper, the most recent claiming the life of one peacekeeper, injuring two and a pick up belonging to the force was hijacked.
Asked if the militias wouldn’t use the truck to attack the UNAMID bases, Nyamvumba said that tight measures have been put in place to avoid any illegal access to military bases.
“We intend to recover the vehicle, but in the mean time, we have put in place strict measures to guard our equipment and we are trying to ensure that the vehicle is not used in any form of an attack,” Nyamvumba explained.
A similar situation happened recently in Somalia where vans belonging to the peacekeepers were hijacked and later used in suicide attacks against the main base of the force leaving many dead and injured.
Rwanda has close to 3,000 peacekeepers in Darfur.