François Léotard était aujourd'hui au milieu des soldats français qui remplissent la mission qui leur a été confiée, humanitaire, mais qui restent vigilants
- François Léotard was able to observe on the spot the effectiveness of the Turquoise operation. The Minister of Defense was today in the midst of French soldiers who fulfill the mission entrusted to them, humanitarian, but who remain vigilant.
- First stage of François Léotard's tour in Rwandan territory, the Nyarushishi camp. The one and only camp placed under the protection of around fifty French soldiers, the only tangible demonstration of the humanitarian aspect of Operation Turquoise.
8,000 refugees were rounded up here by the Rwandan gendarmes and cared for by the Red Cross. But the presence of French soldiers secured the Tutsi who are here and put an end to the settling of scores by the militia.
- François Léotard: "You see all these thousands of people who are around us. It is they who are protected today by French forces. And if we weren't there, they would probably be very threatened. It is already a result. Each time we turn to France, it touches us, of course. But we are not alone. Why would we be the only ones to permanently have to intervene everywhere in the world? We do it with the maximum of heart, generosity and efficiency when we can. But our vocation is to leave! It has to be clear. Our vocation is to make room for humanitarian organizations. And if possible to Africans, because it is an African crisis that must be managed as much as possible by Africans".
- In the meantime, France is almost alone with 300 soldiers deployed in Rwanda for the moment. And even if in the long term there will be 1,000 on this side of the border, it is little in the face of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, in the face of the abuses which continue and in the face of the RPF which is progressing. Infiltrations up to three kilometers from the first French positions, but the orders are clear: the soldiers must not seek contact.
- The Turquoise mission is only in its infancy and we are already wondering about its limits. Certainly the French only want to stay two months. But will this delay be enough for the UN forces to deploy? Certainly they do not want to intervene in this conflict. But the local populations and the politicians who welcomed them as saviors understand this neutrality less and less. In short, things have only just begun and, by François Léotard's own admission, the difficulties are yet to come.