Aid minister sees progress in Afghanistan

Dutch efforts to rebuild parts of Afghanistan are beginning to pay off, despite several recent incidents in which troops have come under fire, Aid Minister Agnes van Ardenne told BNR Nieuwsradio. The Netherlands has around 1,600 soldiers serving in the Uruzgan region.

‘It is calm in large parts of the country; there is infrastructure, thousands of schools have been built,’ the minister said. Only in the south were the Taliban still a significant problem, she added.
Last week, five Dutch soldiers were injured when a bomb went off in front of their convoy. Despite this, Dutch injuries have been light and the army’s low-key approach has been praised internationally for focusing on building trust.
Colonel Theo Vleugels – who has run the Dutch operation since it started – today handed over command to his successor Hans van Griensven, saying he was proud of the way his soldiers had approached the job. Despite Friday’s attack, progress was being made on the reconstruction project, he emphasised.
Millions of euros was being invested in Uruzgan and hundreds of different projects were underway. The Dutch mission was one of ‘build where you can – fight when you have to,’ Vleugels said.

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