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August 2, 2023 French

Un officier français : « Notre première mission c'est d'arrêter les massacres quels qu'ils soient en gardant une stricte neutralité tant vis-à-vis des FAR que du FPR »

Card Number 31803

Ceylac, Catherine
Boisserie, Philippe
Barnier, Cécile
23 juin 1994
Time zone
Journal de 24 heures [3:48]
Un officier français : « Notre première mission c'est d'arrêter les massacres quels qu'ils soient en gardant une stricte neutralité tant vis-à-vis des FAR que du FPR »
Les premiers militaires français sont arrivés dans la zone frontalière du Zaïre avec le Rwanda.
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- The first French soldiers arrived in the border area of Zaire with Rwanda. The official figure is 500 men who started Operation Turquoise. And already about forty scouts have reached one of the Tutsi refugee camps in Cyangugu in the southwest.
- 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. A French officer with a black beret: "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 and the RPF. It is a mission which is primarily a humanitarian mission but in which we would have to use force if one or 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.
- 300 men from the Senegalese army are preparing to join the men of the French army. They should be on site within 48 hours.
- Saturday [June 25] the 2,500 French soldiers taking part in this operation will all have been dispatched. Today two departures took place from Roissy and the base of Istres.
- Somewhat unusual decor for these 200 soldiers: as a military base, the Paris airport of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, a civilian establishment, in the company of other civilian travelers. But there are special operations in the air and some are keen on defense secrecy.
- More traditional the departure from the base of Istres. Since Monday [June 20], 20 rotations have been made to Bangui in the Central African Republic. In all 700 people and 700 tons of medical and military equipment. Colonel Thouverez, commander of the Istres air base: "For this operation, we are using Antonov planes, jumbo jets which are rented from Russian companies and which offer considerable interest in being able to carry around 100 tonnes each time".
- From Bangui these soldiers will also leave for eastern Zaire on the border with Rwanda. 2,500 men should be on site this weekend. Among them, a thousand will cross the border. And the incursions into Rwanda began this afternoon, for humanitarian missions striving to recall France.
- First of these missions in Cyangugu: there 8,000 refugees are trapped in an area under the control of the government army. Another mission, the region of Gisenyi: there also to help Tutsi refugees but also Hutu opponents.
- Humanitarian or not, the Rwandan Patriotic Front continues to consider Operation Turquoise as an aggression.