Source: Ministry of Defence Rwanda
The first contingent of Rwandan peacekeepers, April 6th, returned home from the volatile Darfur region of western Sudan in jubilant mood as the rotation phase, expected to last a month. First to arrive were 135 soldiers of the 69th battalion stationed in Zalingei, western Darfur. “Up to now, the reports we have received indicate that you did a very good job and we thank you,” Lt. Gen. Caesar Kayizari, the Army Chief of Staff, told the euphoric peacekeepers.
Rwanda has four battalions deployed under the United Nations/African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Earlier in the morning, an equal number of the 63rd battalion had left to replace them. According to the acting army and defence spokesperson, Maj Rene Ngendahimana, the rotation exercise, which started early yesterday, is scheduled to end on May 5.
Rwandan peacekeeping troops were first deployed in Darfur in 2004 and currently, the UNAMID Force Commander is a Rwandan – Lt. Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba. UNAMID officials say that Rwandan peacekeepers are exemplary. Apart from helping provide physical security for the people of Darfur, Rwandan troops have also worked to ensure that the social status of the Darfur community improves by introducing Rwandan community outreach programmes.
Early last month, a contingent of Rwandan peacekeepers based in Zamzam, a few kilometres south of the provincial capital, El Fasher, officially handed over to the local community a fully furnished school they helped build. Work to construct the school in Turba village was started by a different contingent – RwanBatt23 (37 infantry battalion), with participation from the local community last year.