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August 2, 2023 French

Les premiers soldats français sont entrés en territoire rwandais en milieu d'après-midi

Card Number 31760

Masure, Bruno
Boisserie, Philippe
Maizy, Éric
Olliéric, Dorothée
Boussié, Laurent
Lemaire, Jean-Marie
Flegeau, Gérard
Pelé, Patrice
Giorgetti, Jean-François
Baechler, Isabelle
Pasquette, Frédéric
Cathala, Jérôme
Gérard, Jacques
Rochot, Philippe
Bonnet, Dominique
Lerner, Olivier
Duquesne, Benoît
23 juin 1994
Time zone
Journal de 20 heures [20:06]
Les premiers soldats français sont entrés en territoire rwandais en milieu d'après-midi
Cinq factions pas moins participent aux massacres : la garde présidentielle hutu, l'armée régulière à prédominance tutsi [sic], le FPR constitué en majorité de Tutsi, les Hutu pro-gouvernementaux qui combattent les Hutu de l'opposition, enfin les hutu du Nord qui massacrent les Hutu du Sud.
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Journal télévisé
- A large part of this newspaper will obviously be devoted, with all our special correspondents, to the start of Operation Turquoise. The first French soldiers entered Rwandan territory in the middle of the afternoon. The French soldiers taking part in this operation are currently grouped together in eastern Zaire on the Rwandan border, near the town of Goma on the shores of Lake Kivu.
- At Goma airport, aircraft rotations are intensifying to transport some 2,500 French soldiers from Operation Turquoise. Soldiers from contingents based in Africa (Bangui, Djibouti, Libreville) but also 800 from France with the command.
- At the PC, installed in a hangar, we manage the men but also the logistics: five Puma helicopters, light armored vehicles, jeeps. Equipment adapted to a specific mission. André Schill: "Our first mission is, from Bukavu, to begin this mission to stop the massacres, once again the massacres whatever they are, while maintaining strict neutrality vis-à-vis the FAR that of the RPF. It is a mission which is primarily a humanitarian mission but in which we would have to use force if one or the other of the parties wanted to prevent us from carrying out this mission".
- Gradually, the men embark again. They leave Goma, the forward base of the device, for Bukavu further south. It is from there that they will then enter Rwanda. Their first mission could be to ensure the protection of 5 to 6,000 refugees in Cyangugu, just on the other side of the border. Mainly Tutsis but also members of the Hutu opposition are always a potential target for new massacres.
- In a second stage, these refugees could be evacuated to safer areas. A more risky operation. The use of force authorized by the UN could then facilitate the task of the French soldiers. The goal is therefore to evacuate Tutsi refugees who are in the hands of Hutu government forces in this border region. The first detachment should move towards the locality of Cyangugu.
- A total of 2,500 French will be engaged in this operation Turquoise, supported by helicopters, armored cars but also reconnaissance vehicles. A thousand men will be assigned to missions in Rwandan territory, the others providing logistics in Zaire.
- In 24 hours, 600 French soldiers were deployed in eastern Zaire, on the Rwandan border. They will be 2,500 on Saturday [June 25]. At the moment the transfer of troops and logistics continues. At the head of this Operation Turquoise, General Morillon who has been leading the Rapid Action Force for several months. General Philippe Morillon: "There is no question in this country of taking sides. It has been said too much that France had taken sides in the past, that it had armed the militias. These militias, you have seen them yourselves on the screens, they are armed with machetes".
- The first French military elements based in Bukavu have already begun their first incursion into Rwanda. They must reach the town of Cyangugu to come to the aid of some 8,000 Tutsi refugees in territory controlled by government forces.
- According to our information, for the past week men from the COS, the Special Operations Command, have been hard at work in this area to mark out the ground, studying the strategic points.
- For the French soldiers, it is a question of rescuing a population taken in pincer movement in regions where the Hutu militiamen continue their exactions. Some have already fled to Zaire, the French will protect those who are still stuck in Rwanda.
- A second operation began today: French soldiers left Goma to go to the Gisenyi region in the north of the country. The mission is always humanitarian in this area where Tutsi and Hutu opponents are also threatened by the militiamen.
- Officially, the soldiers of the French contingent should not find themselves facing the forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front who are continuing their operations to protect Tutsi civilians. But the risk of a confrontation exists. The RPF men say they are not looking for confrontation, but they consider the French soldiers to be aggressors.
- The center of Kigali was again the scene of clashes today, a little less violent than in recent days. Laurent Boussié: "Despite or perhaps because of the French intervention, last night and today were a bit calmer in Kigali. There was some fighting but sporadic. The tension remains very strong obviously. The position of the RPF remains the same. But we note a slight inflection. For example last night, they wanted to expel all the French journalists from the country. And then while discussing, while speaking about democracy, while speaking about balance, they authorized me and the France 2 team to stay. Another example: today they authorized us to film deserting soldiers from the government army. […] I met General Dallaire there a little over an hour. And while he is the leader of all the leaders of the blue helmets in Rwanda, the French have not yet made contact with him. So he is a little surprised. Normally he should have some coordination with them and at least a liaison. […] There is no question neither for the moment nor in the future that French soldiers come to Kigali".
- A thousand men will therefore be transferred from mainland France to take part in this Operation Turquoise. Several jumbo jets landed this morning at the Istres air base in the Bouches-du-Rhône to load soldiers and equipment before flying to Bangui then Goma.
- These men are waiting for the departure. On the base of Istres, the hour is with the mobilization. Since Monday [June 20] 20 rotations to Bangui in the Central African Republic, a real airlift. Equipment and men to support the French forces already there. Colonel Thouverez, commander of the Istres air base: "We are using Antonov aircraft for this operation, jumbo jets which are leased to Russian companies and which offer the considerable advantage of being able to carry around 100 tonnes each time. From Istres, 700 people and 700 tonnes of equipment have left at the moment. Both humanitarian equipment on the one hand (hospitals, doctors) and then protective equipment for all these hospitals and doctors".< br/> - Boarding this afternoon. These Antonovs carry 100 tons of material per trip. Jumbo jets that the French army does not have. After seven hours of flight, the cargo will be unloaded in Bangui and then head for Rwanda. For the men, the wait is prolonged, so a first rest is essential before the mission. They leave for at least six weeks without relief.
- About 200 French soldiers flew this morning from Roissy to the theater of operations. Charles de Gaulle airport, terminal 2A. Destination: Africa. It's 10 a.m. this morning and Operation Turquoise is in the air. All these soldiers are professional soldiers. For three days they had been on a war footing precisely so as not to go to war. We talked to them about humanitarianism. So the men and women who leave are focused but rather relaxed.
- Not very, very talkative, these departing soldiers. It must be said that the Armed Forces Information and Public Relations Service, the essential SIRPA, classified this departure secret-defence and did not want us to shoot these images. The defense secret therefore took place calmly in full view of civilian travelers from Roissy. Seasoned soldiers and medical teams leave for a mission which does not look under the best auspices but they will remain discreet. They embark for Libreville via Marseille and come from all over France. A senior officer: "I come from Saumur, from the School of application of the armored cavalry weapon. We received the order to leave. In fact I was warned Monday [June 20]. of the detachment, I believe there are around 200 of us, but I don't know exactly. The precise mission will be given to us on the spot. And within the framework of this humanitarian operation, we will be detachment teams, liaison teams with the various forces present, whether they are from Rwanda themselves or from Zaire or the various NGOs on the ground".
- The decision of the French authorities arouses strong reservations in particular on the part of the humanitarian organizations which had to leave Rwanda hastily. The president of Pharmaciens sans frontières repeated this morning in Clermont-Ferrand that in his opinion, and I quote him, "This intervention in Rwanda endangers certain populations and in no way protects the civilian population of Kigali".
- As of yesterday [June 22], Edouard Balladur affirmed before the deputies that in no case our forces will intervene in depth in the Rwandan territory. And this morning, at a press conference, Foreign Minister Alain Juppé refuted the argument that France was isolated. Alain Juppé: "Our European partners, all without exception, have made it known that they approve of this initiative. The Council of Western European Union which met a few days ago gave its blessing to the And several countries are also in the process of setting up logistical support for the French operation: Italy, which could even go as far as troop participation, but certainly Belgium, Portugal, the Spain and I hope so many others. Among the African countries, again, when we look at the declarations of the Heads of State or Government, the support among the countries of French-speaking Africa is unanimous. am insured in Abidjan and Dakar last week. Many Portuguese-speaking or English-speaking countries are also supporting".
- Egypt declared itself ready to participate in the implementation of this resolution 929 voted yesterday [June 22] by the Security Council. For the moment, the only apparently assured participation concerns Senegal: about 300 Senegalese soldiers could indeed participate quite directly in this Turquoise operation.
- In the streets of Dakar, no particular sign of agitation. Only the front pages of the newspapers recall that Senegal has decided to intervene in Rwanda alongside France. And it is above all the dailies close to the government that insist on this information, wondering moreover about the fate of the "Diambars", that is to say heroes, soldiers in the Wolof language.
- And if the opposition is not so favorable to the initiative of President Abdou Diouf, the population, it seems to line up without excessive enthusiasm on the side of the government.
- Relative indifference in the street and extreme caution on the official side where people prefer not to express themselves for the moment. But according to certain information from sources close to the government in Dakar, it is tomorrow morning [June 24] that the Senegalese troops should in turn embark on Operation Turquoise.
- In an interview given yesterday [22 June] to our colleagues at Liberation, the president of the Rwandan Patriotic Front affirmed: "If France intervenes militarily, the war will change and risks getting worse". For the RPF, the French soldiers will be likened to invaders. An attitude that contrasts with that of the representative in Paris of the legal government of Rwanda.
- He demonstrates against the intervention of France in Rwanda, and yet the representative of the Rwandan Patriotic Front is staying in one of the best hotels in Paris. Jacques Bihozagara: "French policy in Rwanda was in any case atrocious and completely morbid!".
- He lives in an embassy partly deserted by his staff and which is connected to the government of Rwanda only by the very fragile link of a satellite telephone. There is no longer a Rwandan ambassador in Paris but a charge d'affaires who is indignant today at the place that France gives to the Patriotic Front. Martin Ukobizaba: "These last days, the RPF carried out a media campaign saying that it was only the Tutsi ethnic group that was massacred. But only we, Rwandans, who lived the tragedy in our flesh, we know that all both parties are victims of this violence. And when the RPF, after calling people for help, finds a partner like France who really would like to help, to hear the representative of the Patriotic Front say that he is going to shoot French soldiers, I found that illogical. I think that France has acted well. She has the means, she has the will. And it's a question of pride because there are things that we cannot support".
- Rwanda's charge d'affaires in Paris lost ten members of his family in the massacres. But he wants to make it known that in this war, both sides have been killed.
- For 10 weeks now, this country has been sinking into horror: the fighting and massacres have perhaps caused 500,000 deaths. 350,000 Rwandans have sought refuge outside their borders and two million displaced people are threatened by epidemics or famine.
- As soon as the news of the death of the Rwandan President, last April 6 at 8 p.m., the summary executions begin. Five factions no less participate in the massacres. It's a bit complicated: the Hutu presidential guard, the predominantly Tutsi [sic] regular army, the RPF made up of a majority of Tutsi, the pro-government Hutu who fight the opposition Hutu, finally the Hutu from the North who massacre the Hutu of the South.
- In a few weeks Rwanda has been transformed into a cemetery and the figure is put forward at 500,000 dead. The machete for the most unfortunate, the exodus for the happiest. April, May, June: three months that follow one another and look alike. Exodus leads nowhere.
Ceasefires have fizzled. Blue Helmets leave Rwanda with their heads bowed after evacuating foreign nationals. Save who can, it's the general disgust.
- As of mid-May, not a day will go by without Rwanda being talked about but nothing being able to be done about it. The fighting is tightening around Kigali where the Rwandan Armed Forces and the gendarmerie have lost control of the street which now belongs to the militias.
- The Rwandan capital surrounded by disciplined RPF fighters has been emptied of its 300,000 inhabitants. Nothing seems to be able to stop the murderous madness of each other.
- So what solution is offered to this small country of black Africa? The French soldiers are only there for two months. Afterwards it will be necessary to find neutral volunteers, if possible to intervene and organize free elections. But tonight we are still far, very far, from this dream pattern.
- Benoît Duquesne: "We are not in the city but at Bukavu airport. The 300 French paratroopers have settled there all day under a hangar. This is where they packed their equipment, prepared their jeeps, their trucks in a constant noise of planes and helicopters which made rotation on rotation.Now everything seems to calm down but everything is ready: the departure for Rwanda following the first reconnaissance elements left this midday can be done from one minute to the next. Without any apparent qualms, the soldiers, when they agree to say a word, content themselves with affirming that they have been entrusted with a mission and that they are going to fulfill it. their presence here, to the declared hostility of the RPF, they simply say that the decision to send them here is political and that it does not belong to them […] The Zairians are torn between two feelings: on the one hand they rejoice in the French presence in the face of Tutsi whom they do not like too much, it must be said. And at the same time they know all the benefit that General Mobutu will be able to derive from the operation. Only one thing is certain: the presence of the French has calmed the spirits here where we were especially worried about seeing a large number of Hutu refugees pouring in".
The 20 o'clock news of France 2 of June 23, 1994 is visible in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elSbBKZGyTc