Dutch contingent to help protect Chad refugees
The 40 Dutch marines who left for Chad on Monday will join the 25 Dutch soldiers in protecting refugees from militia attacks.2 June 2008
THE NETHERLANDS - A group of 40 Dutch marines has left for Chad to join 25 Dutch soldiers who have already arrived in the conflict-torn country.
The Dutch force is part of the European Union mission in eastern Chad and the north-east of the Central African Republic, EUFOR Tchad/RCA.
The purpose of the mission is to protect civilians, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure the safety of United Nations personnel.
The force will number 4,300 troops, including a strategic reserve of 600 troops who will be stationed in Europe. It is the EU's largest foreign military mission so far.
The Dutch contingent is a special reconnaissance unit which will operate as the eyes and ears of an Irish battalion. The leader of the Dutch contingent, Lieutenant William Diepeveen told Radio Netherlands that the Dutch soldiers will remain in Chad for no more than ten months.
In Chad, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan's western Darfur region as well as many Chadians who have been displaced by fighting in Chad itself.
The Dutch and Irish soldiers will operate in south-eastern Chad, where many Chadian refugees live in makeshift camps. The camps are often the target of attacks by militiamen.
The Irish troops and the Dutch reconnaissance unit will protect the refugees from militia attacks. The Dutch contingent has brought a number of Viking armoured vehicles to Chad. These amphibious rapid reaction vehicles can operate in any terrain from arctic wastes to the desert.
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]