"Dutch troops needed in Africa"

26th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

26 March 2007 AMSTERDAM – Western countries, including the Netherlands, should be sending troops to Africa. Especially specialised units, like special forces and engineering corps, are needed, General Major Patrick Cammaert told the Volkskrant on Monday. The Dutchman is commander of the UN peace-keeping mission MONUC in Congo.

26 March 2007
 
AMSTERDAM – Western countries, including the Netherlands, should be sending troops to Africa. Especially specialised units, like special forces and engineering corps, are needed, General Major Patrick Cammaert told the Volkskrant on Monday. The Dutchman is commander of the UN peace-keeping mission MONUC in Congo.

"It would be fantastic if western countries were to send troops to Africa rather than leave the work to countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and South Africa." Cammaert does not expect that the UN mission will be able to leave Congo for at least another ten years.

Cammaert wants more countries to "share the risks" in the region, which he says is less dangerous than Afghanistan. "We haven't had any suicide attacks in Africa so far, and no roadside bombs, that is what has led to the greatest losses in Afghanistan."

The new Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders (Labour PvdA) is an outspoken supporter of military action in Africa. His Christian democrat CDA colleague Maxime Verhagen of Foreign Affairs however is reluctant to send troops to the continent even under the auspices of the UN.

Cammaert thinks that the UN is the appropriate organisation to take action in Africa, in view of the reluctance of the EU and NATO and the powerlessness of the African Union.

"Unlike NATO the UN cannot get a large-scale war machine rolling," Cammaert admits. But he says this is not what is needed. "We are working on maintaining peace and can only force that to a limited degree."

A spokesperson for the defence ministry pointed out that the Netherlands cannot even discuss sending troops unless it is requested to do so. "A considerable contribution" from the Netherlands could be very difficult since the armed forces are already under a lot of pressure because of the mission in Afghanistan.

Fighting broke out between government troops and the private militia of former vice-president Bemba last week in the capital of Kinshasa.  Cammaert says this most recent outbreak of violence shows that foreign troops are needed. He expects the violence to spread to other parts of Congo.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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