Details/Information for Canadian Forces (CF) Operation ASSURANCE

CF Overseas Operations have most often operated within the construct of an international mandate. As such, the International Information is presented first in order to provide the context of the Canadian Operation (displayed second). Eventually, all rotations associated with the particular Canadian operation will also be displayed.

ASSURANCE
Photo by Cpl Peter Redden

The first 50 Canadian soldiers board a Canadian
Forces Hercules aircraft at the old Entebbe airport
in Uganda near the end of Op ASSURANCE.

International Information

International Operation Name: African Great Lakes Multinational Force

International Mission Name: African Great Lakes Multinational Force (AGLMF-Z)

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Africa

Location: Rwanda and Zaire

Mission Date: 15 November 1996 - 4 January 1997

Mission Mandate:

Facilitate the immediate return of humanitarian organizations and the effective delivery by civilian relief organizations of humanitarian aid to alleviate the immediate suffering of displaced persons, refugees and civilians at risk in eastern Zaire facilitate the voluntary, orderly repatriation of refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees as well as the voluntary return of displaced persons

Mission/Operation Notes:

After the Rwandan genocide, more than one million ethnic Hutu refugees were living in camps in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire). The refugees included armed Hutu militiamen as well as former Rwandan soldiers who had taken part in the genocide of an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutus. These militiamen and former soldiers were using the Congo as both a refuge and a launching pad for raids into Rwanda.

In October 1996, Laurent Kabila's Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, with support from the Rwandan Army, began a military campaign against the refugee camps, where most of the victims were women and children. Despite extensive media attention and calls for help, major nations were slow in responding. For its part, on 9 November 1996 the United Nations Security Council authorized the Secretary-General to look at the possibility of creating a multi-national force for humanitarian purposes. Subsequently, Security Council Resolution 1080 (15 November) authorized such a force under Chapter VII of the Charter, to terminate on 31 March 1997, or sooner if the Secretary-General so recommended. The force's mandate was to:

By this time a mass exodus of refugees was already underway, with 600,000 reported as having returned to Rwanda by 19 November. The need for a multinational force with a Chapter VII mandate was now open to question, as the delivery of relief to the repatriated refugees now appeared to be the primary concern. Still, there were over 500,000 refugees either unaccounted for or still en-route home who probably needed assistance.

An ad-hoc Steering Group, chaired by Canada, met in New York City on 21 November, with further planning taking place in Stuttgart, Germany on 22 and 23 November, Canada having volunteered to take the lead in the multinational force. Options ranged from the status quo to deploying a 10,000-man security force. Further planning continued so that by 30 November a headquarters was set up in Entebbe, Uganda, with detachments later created in four other locations in the area. Reconnaissance flights by the United States and Great Britain suggested that by the first week of December events had overtaken plans and that both parts of the multinational force's mandate had been accomplished without its actually having deployed in any strength. As a result, on 13 December the proposal was made to the Security Council that the mission be terminated as of 31 December, to which the Council agreed.

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Canadian Forces (CF) Information (ASSURANCE)

Name: ASSURANCE

Date: 2 November 1996 - 31 December 1996

CF Mission/Operation Notes:

On 9 November, as a result of Security Council Resolution 1078 and a Canadian decision to aid the refugees, The Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (DCDS) issued a warning order for a potential humanitarian mission in eastern Zaire, the mission to be named Operation ASSURANCE. The response was planned to consist of the Disaster Assistance Response Team with one rifle company for security, three CC-130 Hercules, an airlift control element and supporting personnel. The DCDS order for the operation was issued on 15 November with a reconnaissance team, supported by one Hercules, arriving in Kigali on the 17th to determine what the requirements were for the mission.

One more Hercules transporting equipment arrived in Kigali on the 17th, and two Hercules in Nairobi, Kenya. A rented Russian Antonov AN-124 as well as other CF transport aircraft arrived in the days that followed. On 30 November, the order was given to deploy forward and commence operations when ready. Between 30 November and 30 December, the three Hercules assigned to Op ASSURANCE made 32 flights - four to Mwanza and seven to Kigoma in Tanzania, and 21 to Kigali in Rwanda. In addition, three Hercules were enroute to Op ASSURANCE each day bringing in supplies, although this was reduced to two after 22 December. The Antonov flew shuttle runs between Trenton and Africa until 23 December. In total, 354 persons served in Africa on Op ASSURANCE.

With the Security Council decision of 13 December to end the mission, members of the Canadian Forces began to return to Canada, the first group arriving on 17 December. By 21 December, there were only 44 Canadians left in theatre. On 29 December, the order was issued that Op ASSURANCE was to terminate on 31 December. All remaining personnel left on that date.