III. Japanese Contributions to International Humanitarian Relief Operations

International Relief Cooperation Assignments for Rwandan refugees

   The many refugees that left Rwanda for neighboring countries during the civil war in Rwanda faced terrible conditions that led to the loss of many lives from cholera, dysentery and other diseases.

   At the request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Japan dispatched a Self-Defense Force contingent to Goma, Zaire, from September to December 1994 as part of its first humanitarian relief effort under the International Peace Cooperation Law. This contingent provided support in the areas of medical assistance, sanitation, water supply, and air transport.

The Republic of Rwanda

Population:7.44 million (1993)
Ethnic divisions:Hutu, Tutsi
Language:French, Kinyarwanda
Religion:Christianity, indigenous beliefs

1. Mission of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Contingent

(1)Medical Assistance

Self-Defense Force medical officers specializing in internal medicine and surgery provided treatment at the Goma Hospital. Their patients came primarily from the refugee camps.

   Working under extremely difficult conditions and treating diseases they rarely encountered in Japan, these officers worked hard to provide medical treatment with extreme care. Between October 10 and December 17, the doctors treated more than 30 patients a day, including emergency services at night. In total, they treated approximately 2,100 patients and performed about 70 surgical operations.

   In addition, from October 15 to December 18, they conducted joint research into methods of studying the cholera bacteria and carried out additional research on the malaria protozoa.


   From October 13 to December 11, members of the contingent sterilized the toilets in the Kibumba Refugee Camp; transported drugs for eradicating lice to the refugee camps; trained local staff in malaria prevention and lice eradication; and built water disposal facilities to improve water drainage.

(3) Water Supply

   Using equipment supplied by the Swedish water supply team, the contingent began providing water to the refugees on October 20. By December 17, they had provided 70,000 metric tons of water, representing a daily average of 1,200 metric tons.

   In addition to these three activities, the Japanese personnel provided assistance in air transportation and other areas, including building roads at the refugee camps and responding to requests from aid organizations.

   The work allotted to the dispatched units was well within the scope of their abilities. Considering the poor sanitary conditions of the refugee camps and the endemic diseases of Africa, however, they had to contend with exceptionally difficult conditions.

SCF personnet at a water supply point

2. Mission of Japan Air Self-Defense Force Contingent

   Japan Air Self-Defense Force contingent provided air transport services, including the transport of personnel and supplies on C-130H transport planes between Nairobi and Goma for the Japanese relief unit assisting Rwandan refugees. They used surplus capacity to transport personnel and supplies for NGOs conducting relief operations.

   From October 2 to December 20, they flew one-way flights of nearly 1,000 kilometers almost daily, for a total of 98 flights in all. They transported more than 3,400 passengers, 900 of whom were affiliated with NGOs, as well as 510 metric tons of supplies, 210 metric tons of which were requested by the UNHCR.

   Although the runways at Goma airport were in poor condition and the situation on the ground was not always secure, all air transport operations were conducted without any serious accidents.

Liaison and Coordination Personnel

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