Dutch soldiers depart for Mali

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The biggest group of the Dutch soldiers part of the UN mission bound for Mali are departing on Tuesday. Around one hundred soldiers will be leaving from the air base in Eindhoven. The Netherlands will be sending 450 soldiers to the trouble area, as part of the United Nations mission Minusma. The mission formed after the French army reinstated the peace after an uprising in the North of Mali led to a coup.

The mission will be in the area to attempt to protect the population, and improve ties between the central government and the marginalized Tuareg peoples from the North. Troops are allowed to defend themselves, but may also use 'any means necessary' to protect local citizens. According to the mission, this is a "robust mandate" that was sorely missing in previous UN-missions. The cities Gao and Bamako will be host to the operations of the Minusma mission. Soldiers from the army, the marines, the military police as well as the air force will be active in the region. The Dutch task is to collect information for all international troops. Commando's, analysts and helicopters are causing for a lot of threats and criminality around the northern city of Gao. There has been a lot of preparation for this mission in the last few months. Last week, the first group of soldiers, 70-strong, departed for Mali. The mission is expected to run through to 2015, and will cost an estimated €215 million.