More than 70 soldiers left Schipol airport for Mali on Monday where they will form part of the main body of the stabilization mission of the United Nations (UN) there.
As part of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma), Dutch soldiers perform functions such as intelligence gathering, processing and interpreting, the Dutch ministry of defence said.
Over the next few weeks, more than 300 additional troops will be deployed to the North African country. In addition to commandos, they will include members of the Apache attack helicopter detachment and intelligence personnel. The lion’s share of this group will reach Mali on April 22.
Most Dutch troops will be deployed in the vicinity of the Malian city of Gao, but the Netherlands also contributes troops to the UN headquarters in Bamako. The Netherlands provides a provisional military contribution to the UN mission until the end of 2015.
“It is in the Netherlands’ interest to help prevent the emergence of an unmanageable situation in the vicinity of Europe. The north of Mali has become a breeding ground for extremism and a sanctuary for terrorist training camps. Mali is located at the intersection of various routes for illegal migration and for smuggling drugs, weapons and people to the Mediterranean. The money generated by these activities is an important source of funding for terrorist activities,” the Dutch government said when announcing the decision to contribute to Minusma last year.
“International security, stability and a well-functioning legal order are to the advantage of the Netherlands. Another major consideration behind the decision to contribute to MINUSMA is a sense of solidarity with Mali’s civilian population, which suffers greatly from poverty, a lack of security and human rights violations. For that reason, it is important to contribute to efforts to help strengthen state structures that can secure equal rights and opportunities for ordinary people.”