The Dutch Minister for Development Bert Koenders is secretly exploring the possibility of sending Dutch peacekeeping forces to conflict zones in Africa, the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad (AD) reported.
According to AD, these tasks could be carried out without the cooperation of European countries and NATO. The countries which are being looked into are Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to a memo cited by the newspaper, the scenario has been been the subject of discussions between Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Ministers of Defense, Cooperation and External Affairs.
This news comes as political parties in the Netherlands fail to agree on a possible prolongations of the Dutch peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan which expires next year.
The spokesperson of Minister Koenders told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that the government is not researching the possibility of sending troops to Africa. However, Minister Koenders’ support for increased military presence in conflict zones in Africa has never been a secret.
In the past the Dutch army has been involved in several African peace-keeping and peace-enforcing operations although the number of troops involved have always been limited.
Pic: Congolese rebel