Hospital ship to leave Liberia
28 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch navy vessel HMS Rotterdam will not remain longer in the waters off Liberia once its three-month peace mission to the war-torn African country ends, it was announced on Wednesday.
The UN had asked The Hague to extend the mission but Defence minister Henk Kamp signalled the ship would leave for Netherlands as planned on 16 February.
He made the announcement during a three-day working visit to Liberia, accompanied by development cooperation minister Agnes van Ardenne.
Van Ardenne has pledged EUR 2.5 million in humanitarian aid to Liberia for this year, to be channelled through NGOs and UN agencies.
The main problems facing Liberia are food security and access to water and sanitation, which are therefore priorities in the Dutch humanitarian aid programme, the Dutch government reported on its website.
The Dutch medical ship Rotterdam, with 270 military crew, was ordered to Liberia in November 2003 to assist UN soldiers on peacekeeping operations.
Having suffered 14 years of civil war, Liberia descended into further chaos in 2003 as rebel forces battled for control of the capital Monrovia. Liberian President Charles Taylor agreed to step down in August and Nigerian and US peacekeeping troops were deployed in the country.
Rebel forces signed a peace deal and US forces have pulled out of the country and were replaced in October 2003 by thousands of UN peacekeeping troops, the largest UN operation ever.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]