In order to contribute to the peacekeeping efforts in the Darfur region of Sudan, the U.S. European Command began the deployment of personnel and equipment to Kigali, Rwanda, on July 14.
A U.S. Air Force team left Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for Kigali to transport about 1,200 Rwandan soldiers to Sudan.
This U.S. airlift is part of NATO's support for the African Union's peacekeeping intervention in Darfur, and will contribute to the wide-scale, multilateral effort to provide humanitarian aid to Darfur, where approximately 400,000 Sudanese have been killed, and close to 2 million people have been displaced and dispersed to refugee camps since the emergence of the crisis in 2003.
The airlift will rotate Rwandan troops between Kigali, Rwanda, and El Fashir, Sudan, and is scheduled to begin in "the next few days," according to the U.S. European Command.
U.S. Contribution to Darfur Airlift Begins
Saturday, 16 July 2005
11:49:10 + 0200
News release from United States European Command
Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany - U.S. European Command began the deployment of Airmen and equipment to Kigali, Rwanda Thursday to provide logistical and airlift support of Rwandan forces as part of the African Union's expanded mission in the Darfur region of Sudan.
A U.S. Air Force advance team and a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft loaded with support equipment departed Ramstein Air Base, Germany enroute to Kigali where a logistics hub will be established to transport some 1,200 Rwandan soldiers to western Sudan over the next several weeks.
The U.S. airlift is part of NATO's response to support the AU's expanded peacekeeping mission in Darfur with logistics and training.
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 General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced on 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.
Planning for the airlift mission is being coordinated by the U.S. European Command plans and operations center here, working with NATO logistics planners at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Three U.S. Air Forces in Europe C-130 Hercules transports and approximately 150 Airmen from bases at Ramstein and RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, along with additional strategic support from U.S. Transportation Command, will rotate Rwandan troops from Kigali, Rwanda to El Fashir, Sudan, beginning in the next few days.
About 120 USAFE Airmen and two C-130 aircraft from Ramstein deployed to Africa in October 2004 to conduct a similar mission. By mission's end, the C-130s had carried approximately 352 African Union troops and 118,000 pounds of cargo.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)