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Afghanistan: Dutch Say Their Civic Approach Made Gains …

  • August 3rd, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

afghan-dutch-aus.jpgThe government of the Netherlands has described the country’s four-year military commitment to Afghanistan as a success for dampening down growth in international terrorism.

MOVING OUT, MOVING IN

The following is a statement issued by the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry on Sunday (1.8.10), as the Netherlands handed over control of the battle area in Uruzgan province, to Australian and United States commanders.

Troops from Singapore and Slovakia are also going into the area, to fill the gap left by the 1600 strong Dutch force.

See Euaustralia Online,  “Dutch Afghanistan Departure”, 1.8.10.

PRAISE FOR “PROFESSIONALISM AND DEVOTION”

Text of Ministry statement:

In a personal message to the commander and the civil representative of Task Force Uruzgan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen said that he was deeply impressed by the professionalism and devotion shown by all the Dutch soldiers, diplomats and development workers assigned to Afghanistan.

‘The international community and NATO are helping Afghanistan to stand on its own feet, so that it can oppose extremist forces that want to use the country as a breeding ground for international terrorism. The Netherlands shouldered its responsibility, and worked hard for the security and reconstruction of Afghanistan.’

MOST DANGEROUS, COMPLICATED MISSION

The deployment in Uruzgan was part of the most dangerous, complicated mission to be carried out by the Netherlands for many decades. Twenty-four Dutch soldiers lost their lives, and some 140 were wounded.

“CIVIL WHERE POSSIBLE, MILITARY WHERE NECESSARY”

In his speech at the handover ceremony, civil representative Jennes de Mol said that it was clear from the beginning that military intervention alone would yield few results. ‘The watchword was civil where possible, military where necessary.’

Because security is a condition for reconstruction, and development leads, vice versa, to stability and security, soldiers, diplomats and development workers worked closely together.

It was essential to understand power relations in the province. The Netherlands therefore invested in relations with the various population groups there. ‘The Afghan tradition of shuras and jirgas was similar to the Dutch consensus model,’ said Mr de Mol. ‘We felt genuinely at home in Uruzgan.’

“IT WAS WORKING”

The security situation has improved considerably in the past four years. The Netherlands built a police training centre, which was attended by hundreds of police officers. There are now 1,600 police officers working in Uruzgan. In 2006, there were hardly any professional policemen in the province. Thanks to improved stability, a growing number of civil society organisations have moved into Uruzgan. The United Nations opened an office there in 2008.

Nearly everyone in Uruzgan now has access to healthcare services. Medical centres – with  enough medical personnel – are within walking distance and most children have been vaccinated. There are twice as many schools now as in 2006, attended by around 53,000 children, including 7,600 girls.

Improvements to the infrastructure have given Uruzgan a huge boost. For the first time in years, it is possible to travel rapidly and in safety to the capital, Kabul. With Dutch support, an air link has been set up, with flights to Kabul three times a week. And the Netherlands is funding the resurfacing of the road between the province’s two main towns, Tarin Kowt and Chora.

STILL CONTRIBUTING

The Netherlands will remain involved in Afghanistan and Uruzgan. Dutch development organisations, working together in the Dutch Consortium for Uruzgan (DCU), will continue their work, with support from the Dutch government. Through its embassy in Kabul, the Netherlands will continue to work with the Afghan government on reconstruction, good governance and human rights. Whether Dutch involvement in training the Afghan army and police will continue is a subject of negotiation in the formation of the new government.


Reference

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands), The Hague, “The Netherlands hands over command in Uruzgan”, 1.8.10. www.MinBuza.nl, (3.8.10).

Pictures  Handover at Uruzgan, MinBuza.nl

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