The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: RDF Joins UN Force to Sudan

Kigali — Sends more to Darfur

From a guerrilla force, to Africa Union (AU) peace keeping assignments and now to United Nations (UN) peace keeping missions, the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), have made a historical record as a professional force as they send more troops to the troubled Darfur region in western Sudan and join a UN force to southern Sudan.

The observation was made on Friday, when a UN team of experts led by Henry Tynon, Head of Contingent Owned-Equipment (COE) Unit of the UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS, Commander Seth Amoama of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Military Division and, Simon Jeffords of the UN Finance Department were accompanied by Maj. Gen Patrick Nyamvumba and Lt.Col. Charles Karamba of the RDF, to inspect a contingent of about 244 soldiers assembled at Kanombe barracks, ahead of forces' first UN assignment to the Sudan.

Lt.Col. Karamba, who is the RDF Head of Research and Development, told reporters that the Sudan deployment is in line with the RDF vision of ensuring peace and security around the globe. "Sending our troops for a new peacekeeping mission under the UN is just in line with the professional forces' objectives," Karamba said.

"Participation in such foreign peacekeeping missions helps RDF learn from other armies and they also learn from us and this is very crucial to the development of the Forces," he added.

He revealed that the contingent and military hardware inspected at Kanombe Barracks on Friday would be airlifted to Khartoum, where the forces are to guard the UN headquarters and VIPs.

Responding to a question on the UN's detailed inspection of the forces and Contingent-Owned-Equipment, Karamba said: "Inspections are a normal routine in the RDF and we are used to it."

Asked whether Rwanda benefits from using her own equipment in the UN assignment, Karamba explained: "UN sent a list of requirements for the assignment, clearly outlining standards of equipment to be used and we have the pleasure of displaying the requirements as you can see them being inspected by the UN officials to make sure that they comply with the UN standards."

He also added that the UN would hire the equipment on a monthly basis, after which it (equipment) is returned to the country. "This is the truth of the whole arrangement," he said.

The UN Head of Contingent-Owned Equipment Henry Tynon, who flew into the country a few days ago, turned down press requests to make inspection comments.

Meanwhile, another contingent of the RDF left for the African Union Peacekeeping mission to Darfur, Western Sudan on Sunday.

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