Mission to Chad and Central African Republic leaves many questions unanswered

29 February 2008

Mission to Chad and Central African Republic leaves many questions unanswered

The SP has serious doubts about the Dutch contribution to the EUFOR mission in Chad and the Central African republic, to which today's decision in the national council of ministers committed the Netherlands. The humanitarian situation in the region is grievous, but the role of the French in the mission leaves the neutrality essential to a peace-keeping force open to question.

SP Member of Parliament Ewout Irrgang has a number of questions that he would like to put to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development Cooperation regarding the decision. The SP spokesman on development issues has difficulty principally with the EUFOR mission's lack of neutrality. "Officially this is a peace-keeping mission, but the rebels in Chad have already threatened to attack military personnel from the EUFOR force because the mission is dominated by the French. This is because France is at the same time maintaining its own military presence in Chad, the goal of which is to protect the government. Wearing two hats in this way is endangering the neutrality of the mission, with the possible result that we won't be there to enforce peace but will be running a serious risk of becoming involved in the war ourselves. A further escalation of the conflict won't benefit anyone."

On these and other issues, such as for example the mission's command structure, the SP is anxious to have answers before taking a decision as to whether or not to lend its support to the venture. The question as to whether the country's armed forces can participate in another mission in addition to the presence in Afghanistan will also play a role in this.

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