Expatica news

Dutch give EUR 3m, observers to Sudan mission

30 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands is allocating EUR 3 million for humanitarian aid in the Sudanese province Darfur and will dispatch two observers to the African Union’s mission in the violence and famine-stricken region.

After a short debate in the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday, Overseas Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne said in total the Netherlands is now contributing EUR 10 million to Sudan.

She also said the observation mission consists of a team of 120 personnel. The European Union is deploying nine observers to the African Union’s mission, but most participants come from Africa, news agency ANP reported.

The mission will involve the supervision of the distribution of food and water. Observers will also guard the observance of human rights and aim to ensure that the truce signed between the warring government and rebels is maintained.

The Darfur province is about the same size as France and about 1 million people have been left homeless due to ethnic and religious conflict. At least 10,000 are estimated to have been killed since February 2003.

The Sudanese government recently signed a peace agreement with the rebel movement SPLA to end more than 20 years of civil war. But violence continues, especially in the western province Darfur, where non-aligned Arab militias are accused of carrying out attacks against black Africans.

Van Ardenne said the conflict in Darfur is bordering on genocide, but asserted that a United Nations mission must investigate the situation to confirm if that is indeed the reality. The UN mission is being led by former Dutch government minister, UN special envoy Jan Pronk.

If the UN decides to impose sanctions, Van Ardenne said the measures will probably first impact upon members of the government and their family, such as travel restrictions and the freezing of assets and finances.

Furthermore, the minister did not rule out the prospect that the Netherlands would participate in a large-scale UN peacekeeping operation to help stabilise Sudan.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Darfur