KIGALI - Rwanda will send four military helicopters to the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), to facilitate the peacekeeping mission.
This was disclosed, yesterday, by the Defense Spokesperson, Lt. Col. Jill Rutaremara, shortly after a meeting between Dane Smith, the new U.S. Senior Advisor on Darfur and Defence Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe.
Rutaremara said that the discussions between the officials focused on Rwanda’s role in Darfur with the minister reiterating that Rwanda would continue playing a viable part.
“We are also in preparations to send in helicopters to support civilian protection missions. Another thing is that as Southern Sudan is preparing to fully gain independence, Rwanda is ready to send a battalion [of peacekeepers], if they request for it,” said Rutaremara.
Lack of helicopters has often hampered the Darfur peacekeeping mission as they are desperately needed, he said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has often expressed displeasure over the inability to secure helicopters, for effective UNAMID’s operations.
Ethiopia is the only other country that pledged helicopters to the mission.
Ambassador Smith is in the country to acknowledge Rwanda’s support to UNAMID and discuss peacekeeping in Sudan.
“I very much appreciate the important contribution that Rwanda is making, through its battalions in UNAMID and also in UNMIS and for the force commander, Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba,” Smith told reporters after the meeting.
“We hope to have other closer collaboration in other areas, over time, as we seek with other countries, the African Union, and the UN, to find a solution with the government of Sudan to the Darfur crisis.”