Minister Hennis visits Dutch troops in Mali

Yesterday and today, Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert paid her first visit to the Dutch contingent in Mali. Chief of Defence General Tom Middendorp accompanied her. The two of them gained first-hand experience of the conditions the Dutch military personnel are working in. On Sunday, a sudden storm blew up in Bamako, and today in Gao the temperature reached 45 degrees in the shade.

"I am extremely impressed with what you and the quartermasters have built up here and what you have already done”, said Hennis. “I have now experienced for myself how extremely difficult the climatological conditions are. I have nothing but praise for you. Yesterday, I received a compliment from the Commander of MINUSMA, Major General Kazura, who said that the way the Dutch have deployed into theatre sets an example for other MINUSMA units.”

Dutch camp in Gao

This morning in Gao, Dutch armed forces engineers explained the set-up of Camp Castor, as the Dutch camp is known. The Apache helicopter detachment, the commandos and intelligence analysts also explained their contributions to the intelligence chain.

Capital city Bamako

In the Malian capital Bamako, Hennis was given a guided tour of the camp – which is still under construction – where the Dutch staff officers will be working. The All Sources Information Fusion Unit (ASIFU) is also being formed in Bamako. This international unit will coordinate, analyse and process information gained by the soldiers in the field and from this subsequently produce useful intelligence products.

Minister Hennis also visited the Joint Support Detachment and other military personnel involved in the logistic supply chain from the capital. Hennis was also informed about the duties of the UN Police (UNPOL), the police and judiciary component of MINUSMA, in which Dutch police officers and Royal Netherlands Marechaussee officers are involved.

Koenders: valuable contribution

Hennis then visited the UN headquarters in Mali, where she had talks with the UN leader of MINUSMA, Bert Koenders, and the military commander of MINUSMA, Major General Jean Bosco Kazura. The two of them thanked the Minister for the Netherlands’ valuable contribution to the mission. Koenders: "The Netherlands’ input pushes the mission to a higher level and will better enable us to stabilise Mali and help the country on the road to recovery."

Minister Hennis emphasised the importance of the mission for both Mali and the Netherlands. "Terrorism and the trade in arms, drugs and even people represents a huge risk to Mali, but also to Europe and the Netherlands. With the deployment of our military personnel, we are making an important contribution to the international community’s  efforts to prevent Mali from slipping into chaos", remarked Hennis.