The 25th anniversary of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), Operation Tamar, will be marked with a National Commemorative Service in February 2020.
FILE PHOTO: Members of the Australian Contingent 1994-1995 in Rwanda. Photographer unknown.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said Operation Tamar was established in July 1994 in response to the humanitarian crisis in Rwanda and in support of the United Nations Assistance Mission.
“The focus of this commemoration will be a National Commemorative Service at the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra on Saturday, 22 February 2020,” Mr Chester said.
“As part of the service, Meritorious Unit Citation Warrants will be presented to the Australian Defence Force on behalf of Australian Service Contingents 1 and 2 for their services in Rwanda on Operation Tamar between 25 July 1994 and 8 March 1996.
“This is an important part of our history and the commemoration will be broadcast live on ABC across the country, providing all those in the community with the opportunity to recognise the dedication and sacrifice of these Australians and thank them for their service.”
From 1994 to 1996 it is estimated that up to 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda.
The magnitude of the violence and killings perpetrated on largely innocent civilians gained worldwide attention and condemnation.
“For the Australian service men and women deployed to Rwanda, forming part of the United Nations Assistance Mission, advanced training and prior deployments could not prepare even the most experienced for what was awaiting them in Rwanda,” Mr Chester said.
“Through this mission, Australian service men and women gained great respect and admiration for their compassion, professionalism and humanity.
“Significantly all three ADF services were represented by 14 Royal Australian Navy, 629 Australian Army and 44 Royal Australian Air Force personnel.”
To be eligible to wear the Meritorious Unit Citation insignia, veterans must have completed 30 days of service on Operation Tamar.
The Meritorious Unit Citation can be awarded posthumously.
Veterans should apply to the Directorate of Honours and Awards for assessment and issuing of the citation insignia, if eligible, via the Defence website at www.defence.gov.au/medals