Poor conditions for Dutch soldiers in Mali

The Dutch soldiers in Mali are suffering more from the heat because the camp where they have been staying for months, is not finished yet.

The more than 400 soldiers bivouacked in the northern Malian town of Gao are still mostly sleeping in tents and have limited sanitation. Showering is limited to 4 minutes per soldier per day and there are hardly any toilets with running water in camp Castor. Temperatures of up to 67 decrees can be measured in the open dining area.

End last year the Cabinet decided to participate in the UN Mission Minusma, which aims to stabilize the situation in Mali. Bert Koenders, who is likely to replace Frans Timmermans as Minister of Foreign Affairs, is currently heading the UN mission.

Soldiers on site complain about the conditions at the camp - the lack of privacy and hygiene. "I have now been sent out six times and I've never experienced this," said one soldier. The construction of the containers to eat and sleep in have been severely delayed, while the mission is already in full swing.

Anne-Marie Snels, of the military union AFMP, calls the situation in Gao unacceptable. The union has received dozens of complaints. According to Defense the problems are partly due to the long logistical lines within the UN mission. Snels finds that Defense is "hiding".

On Monday the Cabinet wrote a letter to the Second Chamber saying that the "security situation in parts of the north has deteriorated" in recent months. UN troops are increasingly the target of attacks in Mali. According to Snel the containers must therefore be finished faster. The Cabinet writes that the construction work is expected to be completed by the end of April 2015.

Tonight the Chamber will be briefed on the state of the mission by officials of Defense.

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