Ramstein planes, people leave for Darfur airlift mission
Members of the U.S. Air Force board a C-130 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, early Friday morning to begin an airlift mission to the Darfur region of Sudan.
1 photo: Members of the U.S. Air Force board a C-130 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, early Friday morning to begin an airlift mission to the Darfur region of Sudan.
Photo 1 of 1: Members of the U.S. Air Force board a C-130 aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, early Friday morning to begin an airlift mission to the Darfur region of Sudan. Download full-resolution version

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Three Ramstein C-130 aircraft and approximately 90 U.S. Air Force members departed here early this morning for Kigali, Rwanda, to begin an airlift mission to the Darfur region of Sudan.

The Airmen and two of the C-130s from the 38th Airlift Squadron here will transport Rwandan peacekeepers to the Darfur region over a two-week period.

"The goal of this mission is to lessen the severity of the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region and to save lives," said Lt. Col. John Reid, mission commander. "This airlift is just one small part of the larger international and U.S. government humanitarian effort to assist the people who are victims."

The third C-130 and its crew from the 37th Airlift Squadron is being used to bring extra supplies and people to the staging area in Kigali and will return here directly after dropping them off.

Approximately 30 U.S. Air Force members from U.S. European Command arrived in Kigali Thursday to begin preparations to support the mission. The arrival of that team coincided with a decision Wednesday by the African Union Peace and Security Council to expand the security force for monitors by sending additional African peacekeepers to the Darfur region.

The President directed the Secretary of Defense Monday to make two U.S. military aircraft available for two weeks to support a portion of the deployment of the expanded AU mission in Sudan. According to a statement from the White House, the U.S. is working with other international partners, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to support the AU expansion of the mission to about 3,500 personnel.

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