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Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Evacuation of United States Citizens From Rwanda and Burundi

April 12, 1994

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

On April 6, 1994, the private plane of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana crashed under suspicious circumstances on approach to Rwanda's capital, Kigali, killing the President and others, including the President of neighboring Burundi. Following the crash, some members of the Rwandan military began killing opposition leaders and civilians. General fighting broke out, including fighting between government forces and forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RFP), encamped in Kigali under a peace agreement. As violence in the capital escalated, the State Department ordered the departure of U.S. Government employees and dependents. Combat-equipped U.S. military forces began deploying to Burundi to be in a position to conduct possible noncombatant evacuation operations of U.S. citizens and designated thirdcountry nationals.

During April 9-10, 275 Marines were airlifted via C-130 aircraft to Bujumbura, Burundi. (A total of 328 U.S. Armed Forces personnel deployed to Burundi, including aircrews.) Their mission was to be in position to link up with American citizens moving from Rwanda to Burundi via overland convoy and to be prepared to proceed to the Rwandan capital of Kigali to assist with their departure, if necessary. On April 9-10, American citizens proceeded to leave Rwanda by several overland convoys to Bujumbura and by other routes. Approximately 240 U.S. citizens were evacuated from Rwanda. Most were then flown by U.S. C-141 aircraft to Nairobi, Kenya. Approximately 21 citizens chose to remain in Rwanda for various reasons. It did not become necessary for U.S. forces to enter Rwanda. (United States C-5 aircraft also airlifted Belgian military forces and equipment into Nairobi to assist Belgian efforts in support of their citizens.)

I am pleased to report that these operations were successful, that no hostilities were encountered, and that no casualties were suffered by U.S. forces in this operation.

I took these actions pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations and as Commander in Chief. I am providing this information as part of my effort to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I appreciate the support of the Congress for these actions to protect American citizens.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on April 13.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Evacuation of United States Citizens From Rwanda and Burundi Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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