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March 31, 2024 French

180 parachutistes français ont débarqué à 6 h 30 ce matin sur l'aéroport de Kigali, ce soir ils seront 400. Leur mission : tenir cet aéroport qui sera la tête de pont de l'évacuation des ressortissants étrangers

Card Number 29566

Amar, Paul
Joly, Françoise
Doucet-Bon, Pascal
Boussié, Laurent
9 avril 1994
Time zone
Journal de 13 heures [5:17]
180 parachutistes français ont débarqué à 6 h 30 ce matin sur l'aéroport de Kigali, ce soir ils seront 400. Leur mission : tenir cet aéroport qui sera la tête de pont de l'évacuation des ressortissants étrangers
Jacques Lanxade : "ce qui nous inquiète, c'est une possible reprise des combats entre les forces du FPR, au nord du pays, et les Forces armées rwandaises".
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- France, the United States and Belgium will try to protect and then evacuate Westerners living in Rwanda who are caught in the crossfire: the truce concluded yesterday in Kigali after terrible clashes did not hold. French paratroopers took up position at Kigali airport. American marines will soon join them.
- Last night in Tielen, Belgium, on a military base, the orders were obviously given. An evacuation operation of French, Belgian and American nationals is launched. At dawn, at this Melsbroek airport in Belgium, two Hercules C-130s take off. On board, several hundred soldiers. Direction: Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
- The situation there has changed. Militarily already. 180 French paratroopers landed at 6:30 this morning at Kigali airport, this evening there will be 400. They came from the Central African Republic. Their mission: to hold this airport which will be the bridgehead for the evacuation of foreign nationals.
- To take position, they took advantage of a relative calm last night in the capital of Rwanda. The most difficult will be to ensure the connection between the airport and the city. 10 kilometers separate them. And for the moment, civilians and foreign military cooperators are still scattered in the capital. But now, it seems that there is urgency to ensure the protection of these populations. There is talk of several victims among foreign nationals, including at least three French people.
- Bad sign: less than an hour ago, the ceasefire between rebels and government forces was broken. Fighting seems to have resumed in the capital. Worse, rebels from the north of the country are on their way to Kigali to come and fight against the presidential guard. And according to the International Red Cross, there are already thousands of victims in Rwanda. This new inter-ethnic war between Tutsi and Hutu put a definitive end to the peace agreements signed last summer.
- Colonel Marchal, the Belgian commander of the Blue Helmets in Kigali, confirmed that there was real chaos in Rwanda. Luc Marchal: "The armed forces are deployed in the city. There is no fighting there. But we don't know if we are dealing with units that are under control and command or if we are dealing with detachments that take advantage of an opportunity to steal or to ransom. On the side of the aerodrome, the situation is under control. The French elements which arrived this night or at the end of the night deployed on the site of the aerodrome and have for mission, with the element of the UNAMIR which was there, to ensure the general security of the aerodrome. […] I was yesterday afternoon at the Kigali hospital, and only in this hospital, there were 300 corpses. And this is of course not the only place where we came to deposit the corpses. I believe that all in all, we can certainly estimate around 1,000 the people who were killed" .
- Admiral Lanxade, the Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces who directs the French operation from Paris, spoke of the difficulties of evacuating foreigners: "Currently, in Kigali, we are holding the airport in liaison with the Rwandan Armed Forces. Which means that we can land planes and bring in units. Which we will continue to do during the day. Then we will transfer nationals from the places where they are in town to the airport. knowing that at the moment, one of the difficulties is that there is fighting between the city and the airport and that therefore we need additional means to ensure this transfer in safety. […] In the hours to come, We fear a development of unrest in the city of Kigali, but in the longer term, what worries us is a possible resumption of fighting between the RPF forces in the north of the country and the Rwandan armed forces. And let these fights take place nearby, even in the city itself, and with an intensity that would be much higher than that which exists today".