KIGALI - Barely two hours after 100 Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) peacekeepers arrived Thursday from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, Sudan, an equal number left Kigali to replace them.
It is part of the annual rotation of peacekeepers in the AU-UN hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Those who returned yesterday are part of the RDF’s 101 battalion being replaced by battalion 11 commanded by Lt. Col. Fred Ruvusha.
Despite the continued rotation, The government’s stand on a leaked UN report which alleges that Rwandan troops were involved in mass killings in the DRC between 1994 and 2003, has not changed. It has put RDF contingents on standby for pullout, if the UN publishes the report.
The peace keepers say the report cannot break their morale, at all.
Maj. Chrysostome Ngendahimana, who arrived yesterday said: “It is undeniable; it did upset us just like other Rwandans since no one can be happy about lies being said about them, especially since the work we have done, starting from 1994, is well known. We are an exemplary army in our work ethics and discipline, even in Sudan”.
“But it really could not weaken our morale – if you could see the things we have endured in the past, like a Rwandan soldier, I don’t see us being weakened by such. It can’t even be compared to other hindrances we have encountered in the past”.
Rwanda is the second largest troop contributor to UNAMID after Nigeria, and the UNAMID force commander is a Rwandan, Lieutenant General Patrick Nyamvumba.
There are four Rwandan battalions in Darfur. Another 254 Rwandan troops are in Sudan’s capital where they protect VIPs and key UNAMID installations. The Darfur rotation ends on September 28 while Khartoum ends September 30.