Netherlands to end mission in Kunduz
On 1 July 2013, the Netherlands will end its police training mission in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. Until then, the training will continue, but the emphasis will shift to transferring duties to the Afghan authorities.
By 1 November 2013, the mission and all its equipment will have left the German base in Kunduz. The Cabinet approved the decision to withdraw the mission following a proposal from foreign minister Frans Timmermans.
Since summer 2012, the Dutch integrated police training mission has been laying firm foundations for the entire justice system in Kunduz. The Afghans are now - earlier than planned - ready to take on full responsibility for police training in Kunduz. Afghan trainers are already at work, assisted by German and Dutch staff, so that they will be able take over the leadership. From 1 July 2013, Afghanistan itself will be responsible for police training, and the Germans will hand the training centre over to the Afghans.
Thanks to the progress made in transferring responsibilities to the Afghans, Germany will also scale down its Kunduz mission this year. The Government's decision was also influenced by the reduction of German troop numbers in Afghanistan. Germany will withdraw all its troops from Kunduz in the second half of 2013. Dutch staff working in the province depend on German troops for security and supplies.
This is also true of the Dutch nationals training senior police officers for the European Union Police Mission (EUPOL), which will probably close its Kunduz field office on 1 July 2013.
The Dutch will remain active
The Dutch will not leave Afghanistan entirely. Developing the rule of law in Kunduz is a long-term exercise. The rule-of-law programme is scheduled to continue until 2014. Local NGOs that are not dependent on the German or Dutch presence will carry out the projects, and, along with the Dutch embassy in Kabul, will continue to monitor their progress.
The Dutch will still be militarily involved in Kunduz, too, with the deployment of four F-16s based at Mazar-e-Sharif. The fighter jets are used to carry out tasks under the current mandate and will assist in the withdrawal of the Dutch mission.
The Netherlands will still provide EUPOL in Kabul with police officers and experts working to strengthen the national police and justice system.
The Netherlands has been active in Kunduz since summer 2011. According to an interim evaluation submitted to Parliament, the Government is cautiously optimistic about the results. Appreciation for the Netherlands' efforts has been expressed by both Afghans and the international partners. The Afghan justice system now has better trained police officers, lawyers, judges, and public prosecutors.
According to the Government, it is still too early to assess the long-term impact of the police training mission.