Rwanda Defence Forces have started a relief in place for its peacekeepers deployed in UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
By Edison Akugizibwe
February 19, 2014 [KIGALI] — The first contingent of 284 officers and men were airlifted today aboard RwandAir to Juba, South Sudan.
The deployment comes at a time of heightened tensions in the world’s youngest nation, with thousands of rebels moving swiftly through the oil town of Malakal with the view of crossing to Bor and then Juba.
Uganda on Tuesday said it would start a gradual pullout of troops from South Sudan which would be replaced by the African Rapid Response military units to stabilise the war-torn region.
Fighting started in December last year with President Salva Kiir accusing his former Vice President, Riek Macahr of conspiring to overthrow the government in a coup.
Machar denied the allegations, saying Kiir intended to exploit the coup narrative to get rid of reformist politicians in the ruling SPLA to maintain a hold on power.
Chimpreports understands the airlift for the whole Rwanda Battalion is expected to end on 27 February 2014.
The RDF Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Patrick Nyamvumba urged the peacekeepers to be good ambassadors of Rwanda and maintain RDF good reputation in peacekeeping mission.
“I want you to excel in your duties, to maintain RDF reputation and be good ambassadors of Rwanda”. Gen Nyamvumba briefed the Rwandan Battalion ( Rwanbatt 3) on Monday at Kami barracks, Gasabo district.
He also promised the peacekeepers that the Government will provide to them all support they need to successfully conduct their duties.
He told the peacekeepers that they are deploying in South Sudan when the country is in a critical security situation and RDF contribution to peacekeeping there is a gesture of Rwanda’s solidarity with the people of South Sudan.
The peacekeepers under Rwanbatt2 who have completed their tour of duty started arriving Tuesday by Rwandair.
Lt Col Frank Karakire, Deputy Contingent Commander who arrived with the first batch of 284 soldiers said that the contingent played a big security role when South Sudan was experiencing problems.
The force performed different duties such as protecting refugees, protecting UN installations and routine patrols for security. They also engaged in different social projects to help the South Sudanese population.
They built classrooms, rehabilitated a military hospital in Juba town and provided medical treatment to civilians among other activities.