Afghan women part of new Dutch police training mission

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Sources in The Hague have told Radio Netherlands that a new Dutch mission to Afghanistan should also train Afghan women to become police officers and improve protection of women’s rights in general.  

The cabinet wants to send more than 350 police officers and soldiers to northern Afghanistan to train local police officers. The Dutch cabinet also wants to increase awareness among police officers of the oppressed position of women in Afghan families. The Dutch trainers would be deployed under the auspices of the European Police Training Mission EUPOL. EUPOL is working on the creation of a ‘family-response-unit’ at the Afghan interior ministry. The eventual goal is to implement the programme regionally in the province of Bamyan, where the ‘Bamyan Training College, also known as ‘the women’s school’, is to be built. The training courses will be taught in the capital Kabul for the time being.

Earlier on Wednesday, sources in The Hague reported that the cabinet wants to send more than 350 police officers and soldiers to northern Afghanistan to train local police officers. Four Dutch F-16s would have to stay on in Afghanistan to provide protection to the troops. The jet fighters would have to be relocated from the southern province of Kandahar to the north of the country. The F-16 unit includes about 120 troops, bringing the total number of personnel for the mission to about 500.

Sources say that the cabinet will discuss the proposal for a mixed civilian-military mission on Friday. The Dutch trainers would be deployed in the province of Kunduz and in the capital Kabul. The training courses will be taught in training centres, but also in the field. The soldiers will act as trainers, but will provide protection if necessary.

Parliament A new mission to Afghanistan is a sensitive subject in parliament. The previous mission, to the province of Uruzgan, ended in August, after the fourth Balkenende cabinet had fallen over a proposed extension. However, the Dutch F-16s are still active in Afghanistan.  The two coalition partners in the minority cabinet, the conservative VVD and the Christian democratic CDA, are in favour of a new mission to the Central Asian country. However, the Freedom Party PVV, on which the two parties rely for parliamentary support, is opposed.

The Socialist Party is also opposed, while Labour – the main opposition party - will not support a mission which includes military personnel. The Democrat party D66 and the Green Left party are in favour of a training mission, but the two parties are waiting for the official cabinet proposal which will include all the details. Sources in The Hague assume the cabinet will take a decision on Friday. 

Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Premier Mark Rutte has met with the opposition in an attempt to win support for a new mission. Under the Dutch constitution the government does not need parliamentary approval for a mission, but in practice the government will seek the widest possible parliamentary support.  


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