The United States Africa Command, under the directive of President George Bush, will soon airlift Rwandan equipment meant for the Rwandan peacekeepers from Kigali to war ravaged Darfur in Sudan.
In a statement released by White House after a meeting Monday between Bush and Sudanese Vice President and president of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, the US president said that that he had provided a waiver to the State Department so they can begin moving the equipment from Rwanda to Darfur.
Rwanda maintains about 3,500 peacekeepers in Darfur as part of the United nations/African Union Hybrid Mission charged with restoring peace in the region.
“I have provided a waiver to the State Department to begin to move 240 containers worth of heavy equipment into Darfur, and that the Defence Department will be flying Rwandan equipment into Darfur to help facilitate the peacekeeping missions there,” Bush is quoted in the statement as saying.
In a phone interview with the head of Rwanda Defence Force Peacekeeping Missions Lt. Col Peter Karimba, he confirmed the airlifting and said that the US will airlift 75 tonnes of heavy equipment.
They include about 250 commercial, military support, and engineering vehicles, material handling and navigation equipment, radio communication kits, close to 100 trailers, forklifts and other oversized cargo, fuel tank trucks and water treatment plants.
Media reports indicate that Two C-17 Globemaster III aircrafts are expected to jet in from the US to pick up 75 tons of large and heavy equipment to take to Darfur in about two or three weeks time.
The equipment worth US$20 million (approx. Rwf 11 billion) that will be flown to Darfur belongs to the Rwandan Government.
Rwanda obtained the equipment as a donation from the US government as a means of empowering its partner nations who participate in multinational peace support operations through the African Contingent Operations Assistance (ACOTA).