The Netherlands to contribute to EU mission to Chad

The Netherlands is to contribute 60 military personnel to the EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic. The mission is part of a regional strategy centred on the Sudanese province of Darfur.

The cabinet has decided to send the troops at the suggestion of foreign minister Maxime Verhagen, defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop, and development minister Bert Koenders.

The Dutch troops will leave for Chad in mid-April 2008. They will stay a year and be stationed with an Irish battalion. In addition, five military personnel are to be sent to the operational headquarters in Paris and the field headquarters in Abéché.

The EU mission to Chad and the Central African Republic (EUFOR Chad/CAR) is the biggest military operation the EU has ever undertaken.

Its partner in the regional strategy is UNAMID, the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation in Darfur. The strategy's goal is to achieve peace, safety and stability in and around Darfur, putting an end to the terror its population has had to endure. The strategy also aims to enable refugees to return home voluntarily.

The EU mission will be neutral in the conflict between the government and rebels.