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Three Chinook helicopters are to be added by The Netherlands to the Dutch stabilization forces in war torn West African country, Mali.
According to a Defense Ministry press release, the twin-engine military aircraft, which are expected to be in Mali by October, will be used for medical evacuations, transport duties and tactical mobility, it has been announced.
Government agreed to send Dutch forces to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) some five months ago,
The decision to send the three Chinooks may have been informed by fears about a risk of insufficient evacuation capacity as MINUSMA current has three rental helicopters available for med-evac, which cannot be used under all circumstances.
Additionally, the available helicopters are not fitted with self defense mechanisms and can only land at airports when they operate at night.
Also, in apparent response to attacks that have been carried out by suspected Islamist militants on Gao in northeast Mali, The Netherlands government has also decided that the Dutch soldiers will be housed in protective containers as opposed to tents.
The first unit of the Dutch 450 soldiers expected to be sent Mali to help restore safety and stability as well as protect the civilian population has already arrived to start setting up the Dutch base.
The operational units and material being transported by sea are expected to arrive in the second half of April, while the entire unit will be ready for MINUSMA operations by the end of May.
Violence broke out in Mali following attempts by Tuareg separatist fighters to take over the north in early 2012.
A French military intervention last year was prompted by the occupation of the region by Islamist militants. The French mission was later joined by MINUSMA forces with a mandate to drive the militants out of the West African country.