How Koku Anyidoho’s father, 457 Ghanaian soldiers stayed to save over 30,000 lives during Rwanda genocide

On April 6, 1994, tragedy struck Rwanda when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali, killing everyone on board. This event was attributed to the genocide attacks that took place in Rwanda in the same year, leading to a series of violent and deadly clashes.

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Retired Army General Major-General Henry Kwami Anyidoho, who was appointed the Contingent Commander at the time, recently recounted the events that followed the assassination on Citi TV’s Foot Print program.

He explained how he and his team had to navigate a different route to the military headquarters as all roads from the airport to the venue were blocked.

Anyidoho also received a call from New York directing the withdrawal of troops from the mission due to the mass killings in Rwanda. He noted that the Belgium and Bangladesh battalions quickly decided to leave the mission because of the killings, which resulted in the murder of 10 Belgian soldiers.

However, Anyidoho responded to the caller that Ghanaian soldiers would not be retreating, and he quickly placed a call to those in charge of the decision he made amidst the mass killings. He said he took the decision to ensure Ghanaian soldiers stayed to complete the task of saving lives before they returned home.

As many military men lost their lives in the bid to save others, the United Nations withdrew the number of soldiers on the mission. However, Anyidoho felt that the UN’s decision was wrong as it was a time when they needed reinforcement. He stated that the UN wanted to reduce the number of soldiers operating at 212, but the Ghanaian contingents kept about 458 officers to stay on the battlefield.

The Rwanda government has always been grateful to Ghana for their support in saving lives during the genocide. Anyidoho stated that “they thought that without Ghana, things could have been worse.”

The Rwanda genocide was a dark period in the country’s history, with members of the Hutu ethnic majority murdering as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority.

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The Tutsi-led Rwandese Patriotic Front eventually gained control of the country through a military offensive in early July, and hundreds of thousands of Rwandans were dead. About 2 million Rwandans fled the country during and immediately after the genocide.

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