Rwanda: Peace, Poverty and Peacekeeping

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March 11, 2007: Burundi is now regarded as a peacekeeping success. Burundi has offered to return the favor and send peacekeepers to Somalia. However, the situation in Burundi remains precarious. Once of the reasons for the fragility is a looming food crisis. December 2006 was marked by heavy rains. In fact, the last two growing seasons have experienced very heavy rainfall and destroyed many crops. The price of sweet potatoes (an important food source) has risen over 40 percent since the beginning of 2007. Rain isn't the only problem. The long war limited the farmers' ability to take care of the land and in many places soil (which to begin with is often thin in jungle regions) has been depleted. The government's concern is that a food crisis could lead to renewed fighting.

March 5, 2007: The Rwandan government announced that plans on creating "one of the best air forces on the continent." (ie, Africa). The aircraft would be used to support Rwandan forces engaged in peacekeeping efforts. This suggests Rwandan intends to acquire transport aircraft and transport helicopters. At the moment Rwanda relies on the United States to airlift its troops and police security forces to Darfur. A Rwandan spokesman said that Rwandan does not want to be "dependent" on its "partners" for transportation.

March 3, 2007: Now Burundi is offering to send peacekeepers to Somalia. Responding to an African Union (AU) request for peacekeepers, Burundi said that it could send up to 1,700 soldiers to Somalia. Burundi's defense ministry says that its troops have experienced and "technically" (ie, tactically) ready. However, they have equipment problems. The troops are basically light infantry and lack heavy weapons. They also lack support equipment. It is likely that they will need engineering and medical equipment. Burundi already has 50 troops and policemen serving in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. There is a reason for maintaining a foreign peacekeeping force in Burundi, while sending Burundian soldiers on other peacekeeping missions. The peacekeeping training helps professionalize the Burundian military. The troops are also paid in hard currency. Finally, it gives the Burundian military something to do besides fight inside Burundi.

March 2, 2007: Rwanda reported that two "bombs" (most likely artillery or mortar rounds) fired from the Congo ((DRC) landed inside Rwanda. The Rwandan military claimed that Hutu Interahamwe rebels were operating in the border area (Rubavu district).

February 27, 2007: South Africa said that it will keep 1,100 troops in Burundi as part of the African Union's (AU) "special task force" for Burundi. South Africa is engaged helping negotiations between the Burundian government and the last rebel organization that has not signed the Arusha Accord (Burundi peace agreement). That organization is the Palipehutu-FNL.

 

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