Dutch military mission to Afghanistan ends
Sunday 01 August 2010
The Dutch military mission to Afghanistan formally ended on Sunday with a flag-changing ceremony at Kamp Holland, the main Dutch base over the past four years.
The Dutch role is being taken over by American and Australian soldiers. No senior Dutch military staff or politicians attended the ceremony, news agency ANP reported.
Most of the 1,400 Dutch soldiers who were stationed in the southern province of Uruzgan have now left. The rest are preparing equipment to be brought back to the Netherlands.
In total 24 Dutch soldiers were killed and 140 injured in the four years the Netherlands has been part of the Nato mission.
In a letter to soldiers, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said he had been impressed by the professionalism shown by Dutch soldiers. 'The Netherlands has taken its reponsibility and put its shoulders to the task of rebuilding Afghanistan and making it safe,' he said.
The Dutch government collapsed in February after the Labour party refused to comply with a Nato request to extend its mission or set up an Afghan police and army training programme.