250,000 'Troops Out' Leaflets Call for End to Mission in Uruzgan

3 September 2007

250,000 'Troops Out' Leaflets Call for End to Mission in Uruzgan

The Dutch mission in the Afghan province of Uruzgan must not be extended – that is the message of a leaflet distributed today by the 'Troops Out of Afghanistan' Committee. The Committee includes the SP, the Green Left party, the Stop the War coalition and the Platform against the New War. The leaflet, which takes the form of a newspaper presenting the Committee's arguments against the prolongation of the mission, has a print run of 250,000, a huge number for a country whose population is just under 16.5 million. SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel explained that the paper "puts the arguments behind the wish of the majority of the population that there should be no prolongation of the mission in Uruzgan. We can and must help the Afghan people, but in another way.'

Instead of 'reconstruction' and 'security', the NATO operation has simply brought more violence, poverty and uncertainty to the Afghan people. Of the total budget for the mission of many hundreds of millions only a very small part is spent on aid, almost all of it going on military resources.

'There's no question of this being a genuine reconstruction mission,' said Van Bommel. “This is a combat mission which has cost too many lives, some of them Dutch lives, but most of them Afghan. Dutch troops must be withdrawn and there should therefore certainly be no prolongation of the mission beyond the current projection of August 2008. There are much better ways to help the Afghan people.'

The leaflet – or 'action-newspaper' as it is known in Dutch – will be distributed throughout the country and offered to schools and universities, as well as being made available at community centres and church halls.

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