ME and Ophelia

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Rwandan troops sing and dance in Camp Kanombe in Kigali prior to flying to Darfur

Report from Kigali - The first dozen Rwandan soldiers of a 300-strong African Union protection force left Kigali on Saturday for Sudan's troubled region of Darfur, a Rwandan army spokesman said.

"Twelve soldiers have already left with the equipment. We are expecting the others to leave tomorrow (Sunday) morning," Colonel Patrick Karegeya told reporters.

The troops left with armoured vehicles, he said.

Doesn't this picture bring a lump to your throat? It's of Rwandan troops singing and dancing in Camp Kanombe in Kigali prior to flying to Sudan's Darfur. It made me cry. God bless them. Especially because they are from Rwanda. It's just so fitting. The soldiers in the picture must have been just teenagers when 800,000 were slaughtered in Rwanda - just ten years ago - while the world looked on.
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U.N. report via Reuters today: Sudanese police officers sent to restore security in Darfur are sexually exploiting displaced women. "IDPs (Internally Displaced People) report increasing incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation in Abu Shouk Camp near el-Fasher committed by police officers," said the U.N. humanitarian situation report received by Reuters Saturday. The report also said some of the police officers had threatened women looking for firewood with violence if they did not comply with their demands.
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Update BBC Aug 14 report excerpt re Rwandan troops heading to Sudan over the weekend to protect African Union (AU) ceasefire monitors in Darfur:

"President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said the 150 troops would use force if necessary to protect Sudanese civilians. UN special envoy Jan Pronk said the deployment of 2,500 AU peacekeepers is being considered.

"If it was established that the civilians are in danger then our forces will certainly intervene and use force to protect civilians," Mr Kagame is quoted as saying by the Associated Press. He said Rwandan forces would not stand by and watch innocent civilians being hacked to death, referring to the UN troops unable to intervene as the 1994 genocide unfolded in the country. "In my view it does not make sense to give security to peace observers while the local population is left to die," he told reporters at a military base.

Mr Pronk welcomed the forthcoming arrival of the monitoring team in Darfur and said he wanted many more African observers. "The more people we have on the ground the greater the possibility to build the confidence of the local population," he told the BBC. He said that progress had been made in talks with the Sudanese government about the establishment of 20km wide safe areas around giant refugee camps in Darfur.

Under the proposal, which is expected to be finalised in the coming days, neither soldiers nor the pro-government Janjaweed militia would be able to carry weapons of any kind in these areas. Despite the progress in Khartoum, Mr Pronk acknowledged that fighting was continuing in Darfur, with Janjaweed fighters ignoring official instructions to end attacks.

Peace talks due to take place in Abuja on 23 August between all parties in the conflict - the Sudanese government and the two rebel groups - will go ahead, Mr Pronk said, despite uncertainty about whether the rebel groups will attend."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 8/14/2004
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