Canadian retired Lt Gen Romeo Antonius Dallaire, the former Force Commander of UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, visited Rwanda peacekeepers (Rwanbatt-6) at Juba Tomping Camp, in South Sudan, on Wednesday.
According to a Ministry of Defence statement, the purpose of his visit was to see how Rwandan peacekeepers protect people especially children, and stabilize the situation during armed conflicts.
Contingent Commander, Lt Col John Muvunyi, reportedly welcomed and briefed Gen. Dallaire on Rwanda peacekeepers activities and challenges in their area of responsibilities.
Gen. Dallaire thanked Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) peacekeepers for their valuable contribution to restore peace and security in different mission areas of operation.
“Rwanda has a professional military; I particularly commend your discipline, commitment and excellent service to the people of South Sudan who are suffering from conflicts,” Gen. Dallaire said.
Dallaire developed the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative which seeks to progressively end the use and recruitment of child soldiers through a security sector approach.
According to the Initiative, the use of children as weapons of war must be recognised as a security concern with lasting implications for peace and stability.
The Dallaire Initiative states that child soldiers do not just occur because a state has a failing economy, a large percentage of people living in poverty, or a high population of young people. It observes that, today, children are used deliberately as a combat tactic with strategic advantages and that their use as weapons of war must be recognized as a security concern with lasting implications for peace and stability.
“In a world where children continue to be used as weapons of war, we cannot wait until the child has left the field to effectively protect them. We must be proactive in our approach,” reads a statement on the Initiative’s website.
During his last official visit to Rwanda, in April, Gen. Dallaire delivered a lecture on lessons learnt in peacekeeping to a group of officers from Rwanda and neighboring countries, who were attending a lecture dubbed, “Contemporary Peacekeeping Operations: Challenges, Prospects and Lessons Learnt.” at the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Command and Staff College in Musanze District
At the time, the former Canadian senator noted that there is a need to rethink the approach to peacekeeping and give new meaning to peace operations, to ensure such missions deliver on their mandate.