Rwanda successfully deployed all its planned 850 peacekeepers to the volatile Central African Republic (CAR), an exercise that began on January 16 and involved 38 airlifts.
The group which jetted out yesterday will immediately join other peacekeepers already in CAR as part of the Rwandan contingent supporting the African Union International Support Mission to CAR (Misca), which seeks to pacify the war-torn country.
The Mission also contains troops from Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea and is mandated to use force to protect civilians.
“Rwanda Defence Force and US Military worked jointly to airlift 850 troops and 1,000 tonnes of equipment to Bangui in three weeks,” Brig. Gen. Joseph Nzabamwita, the Defence and Military Spokesperson wrote on Twitter.
The group was seen off by Gen. Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, the Rwanda Defence Force Army Chief of Staff, alongside US Deputy Chief of Mission, Jessica Lapenn.
Under the command of Col. Jean Paul Karangwa, the mechanised infantry battalion (RWAMACH-1) was drawn into action on Wednesday last week when it conducted a rescue operation at Begwa, a town 13 kilometres from Bangui and saved 37 Muslim civilians from a violent attack by a pro-Christian armed group.
“The Mission’s goal is to protect civilians, restore order in the country, and help establish and build institutions that will ensure stability,” Nzabamwita said in an interview.
The RDF troops are deployed under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII with a 12-month mandate. In CAR, the Rwandan peacekeepers also man key government installations and constitute the President’s protection unit.
This is the heaviest armed combat force Rwanda has deployed in peacekeeping missions since 2004 when it deployed in Darfur, Sudan.
A rebel alliance in CAR toppled the government in March last year. The ensuing chaos that followed has seen the country descend into clashes between rival Christians and Muslim militias in which thousands have died.
The transitional Parliament on January, 20 elected Catherine Samba-Panza as the interim President.
The UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, says the security situation in CAR is getting worse despite the inauguration of a new leader, adding that the Muslim civilians are now extremely vulnerable.Follow https://twitter.com/RushAfrican