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7/19/2005 - KIGALI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Rwanda (AFPN) -- A C-17 Globemaster III departed here July 18 carrying 95 Rwandan troops deploying to help ease the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The airlift started the 86th Aerospace Expeditionary Group?s involvement in NATO?s support to the African Union expanded mission in the region. The airlift is expected to last 30 days.
?The people of Darfur need help,? said Col. Scott Schafer, the group commander. ?This first airlift means that Rwandan troops are on the way.?
The troops were sent off with the music of a Rwandan military band, and marched to the C-17 through a Rwandan military honor guard hailing them with fixed bayonets. The aircraft was from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., and was flown by a crew from McChord AFB, Wash.
?All of our efforts in support of (the mission in the Darfur region of Sudan) underscore our commitment to an important team effort,? said Capt. Joel Harper, the group?s public affairs chief. ?We are working with the international community, specifically the African Union and NATO, to help achieve peace in a unified Sudan.?
During the operation, about 150 Airmen from Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Royal Mildenhall, England; and strategic support from U.S. Transportation Command will move about 1,200 Rwandan troops from Kigali to Al-Fashir, Sudan.
?We?re not alone in this mission,? Colonel Schafer said. ?We?re working with our allies in NATO and the AU to ensure Darfur gets help.?
The U.S. airlift is part of the larger multinational effort to improve security and create conditions in which humanitarian assistance can be more effectively provided to the people of Darfur. NATO Secretary Gen. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced June 9 that the alliance would help the AU expand its peacekeeping force in Darfur from 3,300 to about 7,700 in the coming months.
U.S. European Command began deploying Airmen and equipment here July 14.
About 120 U.S. Air Forces in Europe Airmen and three C-130 Hercules aircraft from Ramstein deployed to Africa in October 2004 to conduct a similar mission. By mission's end, the C-130s had carried about 350 AU troops and 118,000 pounds of cargo. (Courtesy of USAFE News Service)
KIGALI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Rwanda -- Rwandan forces stand by to board a C-130 Hercules from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on July 19. The Ramstein Airmen were here to provide transportation for 1,200 Rwandan forces to Sudan in support of NATO's response for the African Union's expanded peacekeeping mission in Darfur with logistics and training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley C. Church)
The Stars and Stripes has more on the mission here.
Also rarely mentioned in media coverage is the fact that the two-decades old "civil war" in Sudan is an effort by the Muslim north (often referred to as "the government") to slaughter the Christian and Animists (often referred to as "rebels") who populate the southern areas of the country. The situation is further complicated by the more recent battles (more accurately: ethnic cleansing) raging between Arab Muslims (often referred to as "the government") and African Muslims (often referred to as "rebels") - mostly in the Darfur region of western Sudan. None of this should be confused with the even more recent conflict in eastern Sudan.
Note that Rwanda - the nation providing the peacekeeping forces, was itself recently the site of civil war and genocide.
Of course, as UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland makes clear, the real problem is in Niger:
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The west African nation of Niger is suffering "an acute humanitarian crisis" in which children are dying because the world community ignored U.N. appeals for urgent aid, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Tuesday.
Jan Egeland said 2.5 million people are in desperate need of food, including 800,000 malnourished children. Some 150,000 of those children will die soon "unless we really get to step up our operation."
The United Nations first appealed for assistance for Niger in November and got almost no response. Another appeal for $16 million in March got about $1 million. The latest appeal on May 25 for $30 million has received about $10 million.
As of July 1, the United States had committed over $1.6 million to nutritional, agricultural and livestock programs to implementing partners. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has appealed for $4 million for agricultural programs in Niger and received just $650,000 from Sweden, he said.
"It's a race against time to get to 1.2 million beneficiaries with 23,000 metric tons of food which we are sending," Egeland said.
He said the World Food Program and the Niger government last May appealed for 16 million dollars but got virtually nothing.
"Now we have an appeal (revised upward) for a total of 30 million dollars and I got in recent days positive pledges" from the European Commission, other European donors, several Arab states, some of Niger's African neighbors and the United States, he added.
He said Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Germany, the United States had disbursed, sent or committed a total of 10 million dollars and more money was in the pipeline.
US officials said Washington had committed over 1.6 million dollars to Niger's humanitarian needs since May.
I am sure Kofi can pony up the $16M that Niger needs. Ya'know, the profits he gleaned from the UN Oil for Food monies? I'm just saying, thats all.Posted by Fersboo at July 20, 2005 09:52 PM
Fersboo, how cruel of you. Kofi had kids to support, man. He's just trying to take care of his family.Posted by MrSpkr at July 21, 2005 01:54 AM
Glad to hear something is being done about the crisis in Darfur :) Seems like this would be big news, but guess there are no 5-star hotels in Darfur to send correspondents to....Posted by daniel at July 21, 2005 02:42 AM
Darfur doesn't make the news in the US media because there are no attractive young white women missing there.Posted by storm72 at July 21, 2005 02:23 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(4) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)