Netherlands to deploy frigate against pirates

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The government is expected to decide today to send a frigate to the Arabian Sea to protect UN food transports destined for Somalia

7 March 2008

KHARAZ – The government is expected to decide today to send a frigate to the Arabian Sea to protect UN food transports destined for Somalia, the Volksrant reports. "It is a good example of close cooperation between Defence and Foreign Affairs," Minister Bert Koenders for Development Cooperation said Thursday after a visit to Somali refugees in the Yemeni camp of Kharaz.

The navy ship will be deployed in April at the UN's request for a mission of several months. It will escort ships carrying food and other supplies to Somalia, which has been plagued by civil war for years.

These transports have repeatedly been targeted by pirates. "They pose a serious threat to humanitarian aid," Koenders said. The crew of the Dutch frigate will be authorised to arrest suspected pirates.

If the cabinet meeting today approves the deployment, this will be the second decision in a short time for a modest military mission in Africa.

At the end of last month the government decided to send several dozen navy soldiers to Chad. Their main task will be to protect aid workers against all sorts of armed groups. The cabinet still has to decide on a third operation in Africa, the placing of a field hospital in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Koenders (PvdA) realises that the armed forces has its hands full with the Uruzgan operation until 2010. "That requires significant efforts. With a third mission in Africa we'll have reached our limit."

[Copyright Expatica News 2008]

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