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Rwanda is the fourth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations
by United Nations News, agencies
May 2018
Today Rwanda is one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping, contributing troops and police to United Nations operations to help save lives and advance peace-keeping efforts around the world.
Beginning with a modest contribution in May 2005 with the deployment of one military observer to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Rwanda is currently the fourth largest contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.
After suffering its own genocide, Rwanda now contributes many personnel to missions that have protection-of-civilian mandates. There are nearly 6,550 Rwandan uniformed personnel currently serving with the UN, the majority of them in hot spots such as South Sudan, the Darfur region of Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
“Peacekeeping is a noble, necessary but dangerous mission. The sacrifice and risk peacekeepers endure is always at the forefront of my thoughts,” Secretary-General António Guterres said last month during the commemoration at UN Headquarters of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
“It is particularly commendable that a nation that has endured the worst atrocities should risk its soldiers to help ensure those atrocities do not happen elsewhere,” he added.
The UN chief’s remarks were particularly poignant coming as they did just days after the killing of a Rwandan peacekeeper and the wounding of eight others during an exchange of fire with armed elements in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Overall, 53 Rwandans have lost their lives while serving with UN peacekeeping operations.
Adama Dieng, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, noted that it is because the tragedy experienced on its soil that Rwanda moved quickly to send troops to places such as CAR and Darfur, where civilians were under threat.
“I can say that Rwanda knows exactly what genocide means,” Mr. Dieng told UN News in a recent interview. “That is why when I sounded the alarm in Central African Republic, in November 2013, Rwanda moved and sent troops to protect the population there.
For Inspector of Police Maurice Nyierema, who serves with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda has played an important part in his decision to serve as a peacekeeper.
“What happened in Rwanda makes my conviction stronger that we cannot allow something like that to happen ever again, in any place of the world,” he said.
Mr. Nyierema was among the 183 Rwandan police officers, including 30 women, who received the UN service medal in South Sudan in February of this year. The officers, based in the capital, Juba, carry out tasks such as city patrols and public order management in the UN Mission’s protection sites for civilians seeking shelter from violence.
A huge amount is at stake. Since conflict broke out in 2013, thousands of civilians in South Sudan have been killed in targeted attacks, women raped, homes and means of livelihoods destroyed. More than 1.5 million South Sudanese are living as refugees in neighbouring countries and more than 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living under the protection of the UN Mission in Protection of Civilians (POC) sites across the country.
“People should learn to live together and to love each other, love their country and avoid divisions among themselves,” said Lt. Col. Kabera Simon, a Rwandan peacekeeper who served with UNMISS last year. “They should ignore what makes them different from each other and look at what brings them together and build their homes and nation.”
“This is my message: after war, after conflict, after misunderstanding, there is hope for the future if people are willing.”

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ICRC: Health-care workers suffer attacks every single week
by International Committee of the Red Cross
An incident of violence against health-care facilities or personnel has taken place every single week since the passage two years ago of a U.N. Security Council Resolution meant to increase respect for the sanctity of health care.
Just this week, armed men stormed a hospital in the Central African Republic where an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) surgical team operates, threatening patients, medical staff and Red Cross volunteers. An ambulance was stopped and threatened in the street.
The U.N. Security Council resolution passed with overwhelming support, an indication the world believes that people, especially in areas of conflict, must be able to safely seek medical care. Sadly, from May 2016 to today, the ICRC has registered in 16 countries alone over 1,200 incidents of violence against health-care facilities or personnel.
In Afghanistan, for example, attacks against health workers and the use or destruction of health-care facilities by arms carriers has cut off thousands if not millions of people from medical care. The attacks health personnel face include threats, kidnappings, and killings.
“Attacks against health facilities and personnel are a double tragedy,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer. “First, such attacks wound and maim people seeking and providing health care. But they also deprive an uncountable number of people from receiving aid in the future, crippling the hopes of recovery for people in desperate need.”
The passage on May 3, 2016 of UNSC Resolution 2286 was a strong step by the international community to address violent attacks on health care, but commitments to prevent and mitigate this violence must be followed by action.
The ICRC urges that these steps take place in conflict zones:
1) Armed forces refrain from attacking civilians or civilian infrastructure including health-care facilities, personnel and vehicles.
2) The lifting of any blockade that prevents the delivery of necessary medical items and the evacuation of sick and wounded people.
3) Investigations into incidents of violence against health care and accountability for attacks that violate international humanitarian law.
The destruction of health infrastructure and the disruption of health services have been particularly disturbing in conflicts in the Middle East. More than half of Syria’s public hospitals and health-care centres are closed or only partially functioning. Some of them have been hit by multiple air strikes. The provision of medical supplies in certain areas of the country as well as the evacuation of the wounded and sick have been consistently obstructed.
In Iraq, the destruction of civilian infrastructure in areas affected by the most recent hostilities has been massive. In Salah al-Din more than a third of health centres are damaged or destroyed. In Yemen, only 45% of the country’s health infrastructure was functioning at the end of 2017, and most did not have enough medical supplies.
“Even wars have rules,” Maurer said. “The wounded and sick must be protected in all circumstances. Violence that deprives them of access to health care violates international humanitarian law, and, ultimately, it makes us all a little less human.”
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