Dutch peacekeeping staff to stay one more year in Sudan

The Netherlands is to extend its contribution to the UN peace mission in Sudan (UNMIS) by one year. The decision was taken today by the cabinet on the advice of foreign minister Maxime Verhagen, defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop and interior minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin.

The Dutch contingent of some thirty observers, police instructors and coordinating officers will stay on in Sudan until April 2011. Their mandate will remain unchanged. The peace mission monitors compliance with the 2005 peace agreement between Northern and Southern Sudan.

‘With upcoming elections and the referendum on the future status of Southern Sudan, the United Nations mission is still extremely important,’ said Mr Verhagen. ‘By their presence and advisory work, our people are promoting stability and helping to make the peace process a success.’

The Dutch decision to stay another year comes in response to a request by the United Nations, and will cost €1.5 million.

The biggest contribution to the 12,600-strong peacekeeping force is being made by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Zambia, Rwanda and Russia, who are jointly providing 9,100 armed personnel. In the coming year, Dutch military and police staff will continue to work alongside colleagues from other EU countries – Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Greece, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom.