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August 2, 2023 French

Selon l'organisation Médecins sans frontières, « les troupes françaises quittent le Rwanda en laissant derrière elles un chaos »

Card Number 3592

Chazal, Claire
Pons, Nellie
Dupont, Mathieu
20 août 1994
Time zone
Journal de 20 heures [6:13]
Selon l'organisation Médecins sans frontières, « les troupes françaises quittent le Rwanda en laissant derrière elles un chaos »
Les réfugiés hutu continuent de fuir par milliers le Rwanda tandis que le Zaïre a fermé cet après-midi sa frontière au poste de Bukavu.
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- The end of Operation Turquoise in Rwanda. The last French soldiers will be gone tomorrow evening [August 21]. Some will be withdrawn to Zaire. Hutu refugees continue to flee by the thousands and Zaire this afternoon closed its border with Rwanda at the Bukavu post. According to the organization Médecins sans frontières, "the French troops are leaving Rwanda, leaving behind a chaos".
- It's 1.50 p.m., the border has just closed. This child implores, begs to be allowed to pass. He came alone to look for some wood in Rwanda, his family is on the other side, in Zaire. The closure of the border stops tens of thousands of refugees in their exodus. It is the French soldiers who are responsible for applying the decision and stopping the crowd at the entrance to the bridge. A thronging crowd, anguished faces, desperate looks. The panicked Rwandans are stranded by the river in the greatest confusion.
- Very quickly, some will try to leave Rwanda by all means. Some take the plunge and try to swim to Zaire. Carried away by the current, a man is fished out by a French legionnaire. His attempt failed but his life is saved.
- On the other side of the bridge, the Zairians are pushing back the last Rwandans. On the banks, they try to catch the refugees who have swam across, and the crowd cheers when one manages to escape. But few of them try their luck. 30,000 refugees are waiting there, with fear in their stomachs but calmly. Chris Janowski, "H.C.R. Press Officer" : "Some people are desperate and determined to cross the border. But I don't see signs of panic on a large scale".
- A little later, the Ethiopian soldiers of the UNAMIR, who will officially take over from the French on Sunday [August 21], arrive as reinforcements to contain the refugees. Confusion of the Rwandans who today accept even less the departure of the French. Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques Hogard: "I have just had a good time with Colonel Opango, who is my counterpart on the Zairian side. Like me, he is convinced that the solution is not to close the border".
- On the eve of the departure of the last French forces still present in Rwanda, General Lafourcade affirmed that it would be wise to leave the humanitarian security zone demilitarized.
- At the border post on the Rwanda side, there are really a lot of people. There would be about 30,000 people. And there would be about as many who are on their way across the entire French zone and who are currently converging on this border. On site, there is currently no reception structure. NGOs and UNHCR are trying to set up camps, but for the moment nothing is operational.
- Tonight the situation is rather calm. But they say that if it is calm, it is because the French are still there. And everyone fears their departure on Sunday [August 21] and a wind of panic could seize the population.