Rwanda: US keen to prove its concern over refugees' plight: Thinking back to the cost of Somalia, Washington stresses intervention is purely humanitarian

EAGER TO demonstrate their government's concern for the desperate plight of Rwandan refugees, top-level French and US officials briefly visited this eastern Zairean town yesterday and announced an increased effort to deliver aid to the more than 1 million Rwandans now in local refugee camps.

As astonished Rwandan refugees looked on from outside the barbed wire perimeter of the airport, the US Secretary of Defence, William Perry, said: 'My heart is torn by the human tragedy that is unfolding here in Goma.' International relief operations aimed at aiding the more than 1 million Rwandans who poured through the town two weeks ago, 'have truly turned the corner', he said.

Mr Perry announced that earlier in the day US military personnel had opened the airport in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to a round-the-clock operation, which would greatly speed delivery of emergency relief supplies to Rwandans in a half dozen UN refugee camps in north eastern Zaire, as well as to Rwandans returning home.

Mr Perry emphasised that the motives behind the US intervention in Rwanda, the first since its military mission in Somalia that cost the lives of 30 Americans, were purely humanitarian. 'We're not in a position to provide peace- keeping support to Rwandan refugees who fear retaliation if they return home. The Pentagon will maintain a security detachment in Kigali to protect US soldiers but not deploy any combat troops in Rwanda' said Mr Perry.

He flew here this afternoon following a half hour meeting in Kigali with the new Rwandan president, Pasteur Eizimungu, and the vice-president and defence minister, Paul Kigame, during which safety for returning Rwandans was discussed.

The US Lieutenant-General Daniel Schroeder also took part in the talks; he said that the Rwandan leaders were told that Washington would welcome their request for assistance in any efforts it undertook to reassure Rwandans in Zaire that their safety would be guaranteed upon returning home. He insisted that the Rwandan government, not the United States, would be the ultimate guarantor of the returnees' safety.

General Schroeder who is heading the US joint task force in Rwanda, refused to set a ceiling on the size of the US military contingent that would be deployed to Rwanda and neighbouring countries to carry out the relief mission; today the numbers surpassed 1,000. Nor would he set a deadline for withdrawal. 'We'll be here as long as it takes,' he said.

While Mr Perry and his entourage were eager to allay concern about the future course of Washington humanitarian intervention in Rwanda, the visiting French Prime Minister, Edouard Balladur, was eager to put the best possible face on his government's own efforts which are due to end on 21 August.

'France has assumed its international responsibility' Mr Balladur proclaimed to reporters. 'France can be trusted.' Paris would continue to provide relief supplies following its scheduled withdrawal of 3,000 French troops and would reconsider those plans only if 'new disorders' broke out.

The US Defence Secretary's visit came amid doubts about the effectiveness of Washington's own aid effort. Since President Bill Clinton ordered his government 10 days ago to implement a 'practical plan of action' for dealing with the outbreak of cholera among Rwandan refugees, the US initiative has been crippled by tentativeness. Although the US delivered two water purification systems to Goma last week to address the refugees' most urgent need, delivery has been crippled by the availability of only nine tanker trucks to transport it.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower