The UN left the country in 1996 at the urging of the
Rwanda government during the then civil war. The defense
comprises (2006) 41,000 men enlisted and is organized into
four brigades. The material is mainly of older Soviet
origin. Defense costs rose from 1.9 to 6.3% of GDP in
1985-96, to 2.6% in 2006. Rwanda participates in UN
peacekeeping operations in Sudan (AUMIS). To see related
acronyms about this country, please check
AbbreviationFinder where you can see that RWA stands for
Rwanda's defense overview
The total force figures for Rwanda's armed forces are
33,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, about
2000 semi-military forces are arriving.
The army has a strength of 32,000 active personnel.
Materials include 34 tanks (24 T-54 and T-55, and ten
Tiran-5), 106 clearing vehicles, 35 storm tanks, and 90
armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has heavy
artillery and air defense artillery.
The Air Force has a force of about 1,000 active
personnel, and 18 helicopters (of which five Mi-24 combat
In 2018, Rwanda participated in the UN operations of the
Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with 1378 personnel and
eight observers, in Sudan (UNAMID) with 1671 personnel and
five observers, and in South Sudan (UNMISS) with 2774
personnel and 23 observers.
On April 6, 1994, however, the events took a dramatic turn.
Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President
Cyprien Nytaryamira were both killed in a mortar attack on
their plane when they returned to Kigali after attending a
peace conference in Tanzania. The attack was the signal for
a massacre that over the next 3 months cost 800,000 people
their lives. Including the two presidents who were both
When the mass murder began, France, the United States and
Belgium decided in April to send troops to "guarantee the
security and evacuate foreigners in the country". The French
troops took control of the airport in Kigali, to guarantee
the evacuation of the 600 Frenchmen in the capital.
In the aftermath of the mass murder, the government was
overthrown and the RPF took power. The new government was
trying to boost the country's economy again and organize
lawsuits against those guilty of what the UN called a
"genocide". Nevertheless, the government did not receive the
expected assistance from the western countries, and many
members of the militias responsible for the genocide
continued to operate from Zaire, to which they had fled.
Throughout 1995 and 96 mass graves were discovered almost
weekly, while the violence of the new Rwandan army - based
on troops from the RPF - and the Hutu militia cost new
lives. Many of the militia victims were witnesses who had
seen what happened in 1994 - such as Hutu officials accused
The worsening of tensions in eastern Zaire and the mass
deportations of refugees further aggravated the human rights
situation. In February 1997, Amnesty International
condemned the murders of dozens of civilians - both Hutus
and Tutsi - as well as the murders of 4 UN officials in the
city of Cyangugu.
Despite the request for pardon from both the Pope and the
UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, 22 people responsible for
the genocide were executed in April 1998 in a number of
strategically selected places where the most extensive
massacres had taken place. Among the four executed in Kigali
were the Assistant State Attorney in Kigali, Silas
Munyagishali, the former Vice-President of the Democratic
Republican Movement, Froduald Karamira as well as Elie
Nhimiyimana, who had organized the massacre in the Kigali
district of Gikondo. Amnesty International characterized the
executions as a "brutal parody of justice that damages any
hope of reconciliation in Rwanda after the genocide by
simply continuing the spiral of violence".