A contingent of 150 members of Netherlands Armed Forces are in Rwanda to attend a four-day annual conference attracting Dutch Defence Attachés accredited to different African Countries for a three-week field training exercise at the RDF Combat Training Centre located at Gabiro in the far North Eastern Rwanda, a military source revealed Sunday in Kigali.According to Col Ronald Rwivanga, Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Spokesperson, this amplifies deepening military cooperation between Rwanda and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“We have been partnering with the Netherlands for more than 15 years in military matters, and their soldiers coming to train in Rwanda shows the confidence they have in our training systems,”
“In addition to that, our training locations have the requisite facilities to conduct these training sessions,” he said.
Lt Col Maikel Vrenken, who is heading the contingent from the Netherlands, said they would like to strengthen bilateral ties in security matters, adding that it is an excellent opportunity for their soldiers to train in Rwanda.
“Rwanda is over 1,000 metres above sea level while the Netherlands is at sea level so the higher temperatures and higher humidity and the savannah in Rwanda makes it challenging for our soldiers, which is why we are here for the training,” he said.
Meanwhile, the contingent paid a visit to Kigali Genocide Memorial to honour victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, where 250,000 victims are interred.
Lt. Col. Vrenken said: “Rwanda is like a phoenix that rose from the ashes, seeing how far the country has come is remarkable.”
He added that the Netherlands and the rest of the world should draw lessons from what happened in Rwanda to avoid such atrocities from happening anywhere again.
The Dutch envoy to Rwanda, Amb. Matthijs Wolters, said the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has clearly shown the importance of value-based leadership in armed forces for the protection of civilians, and regrettably the consequences of a lack thereof.
“Let these lessons not be forgotten,” he said.
Rwanda and the Kingdom of the Netherlands maintain strong military relationships dating back from a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral military cooperation in 2005.