The Netherlands' foreign and defence ministers say Dutch civilian and military police officers taking part in a new UN mission to South Sudan will only be exposed to limited risks. The cabinet says the security provided by UN forces will be sufficient.
Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and Defence Minister Hans Hillen made the statements in a letter to parliament. Debate on the Dutch contribution to the UNMISS mission was adjourned on Wednesday because many MPs said they were not clear on the mission’s objectives, its mandate, security for Dutch personnel and the security situation in South Sudan.
The Netherlands wants to make a maximum contribution of 30 people - including 15 military and four civilian police officers - to the mission, which is intended to support and train the South Sudanese police. The United Nations says it has sufficient ground and air transport capability to evacuate the Dutch and other personnel if necessary. The Dutch officers will not be armed and will not take part in operations should UNMISS need to use violence to protect the civilian populations.
Although there is a risk of Dutch staff contracting tropical diseases in the area, UNMISS has its own medical facilities and the ability to transport sick and injured people. The Dutch will be given additional medical and communication equipment. To further limit the health risks, the cabinet and the UN have agreed that Dutch personnel will not be stationed in remote areas or under primitive circumstances.
The Republic of South Sudan proclaimed its independence on 9 July. Since the declaration, the security situation has been precarious, but there is no evidence that UNMISS could become the target of armed groups.
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