Rwanda Reclassification Well Won
- Monday 13 February 2006

The Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association (APPVA) welcomed today’s announcement on the Government’s intention to reclassify the service of Australian service personnel in Rwanda to warlike service.

The APPVA has made the reclassication of the service from Hazardous to Warlike a major part of its campaign in supporting veterans of post Vietnam and UN operations.

“We thank the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Billson, in commiting to review the service undertaken by Australian personnel during the UN operation in Rwanda in 1994/95,” APPVA National President, Paul Copeland, said.

Over 600 peacekeeping personnel served Rwanda in 1994 and 1995 as part of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) with many Australian Defence Force personnel witnessing a now little-remembered revenge massacre in a refugee camp in Kibeho, Rwanda, which left thousands of innocent civilians dead.

“A large number of these forgotten peacekeepers who served there are struggling with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by what they witnessed.”

During the massacre, 600 ADF personnel, comprising mostly of medical staff, had to stand by with limited rules of engagement as extremists and Rwanda Army elements slaughtered refugees. Around 800,00 Rwanda Tutsis were slaughtered during the 100 days of violence, with Australian forces often under extreme threat.

“Official recognition of their time in Rwanda as warlike service will bring well deserved, and long overdue recognition for these veterans and allow them to access entitlements to which they so far have been denied,” Mr Copeland said.

“The APPVA commends Minister Billson for bringing this matter to a conclusion and we look forward to working with him in reclassifying the service of Australian Army Training Team – East Timor members.”

Mr Copeland also acknowledged the commitment by the Shadow Minister, Mr Alan Griffin in supporting the reclassification and placing the question forward in Parliament today.

The APPVA represents veterans who have served on all UN operations since 1947 and operations and peacekeeping missions since Vietnam. This is inclusive of police officers serving overseas as part of the International Deployment Group and female veterans.

CONTACT: National President Paul Copeland Mobile: 0419 355 226