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Aid doesn't excuse NZ's war contribution - Greens

2 November 2001

Aid doesn't excuse New Zealand's war contribution - Greens

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke supports the Government contributing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but does not want it used as a smokescreen to justify New Zealand's participation in the war.

"I feel it is somewhat cynical to send our SAS troops into a war, and then claim credit for using our medics to patch people up," said Mr Locke.

"Likewise, it's hypocritical to support the American bombing of roads and bridges, and then send in Kiwi engineers to repair them."

Mr Locke said the talk of offering aid comes at a time when public opinion in New Zealand - and around the world - is turning against the war, as more and more civilians are killed.

"The Greens don't want humanitarian aid to be used as a smokescreen to make the Government's SAS commitment more acceptable.

"It would be much better for the Government to demand an end to the bombing that is preventing food aid from getting through to millions of hungry Afghanis," he said.

"The Greens welcome New Zealand medical assistance, particularly through the Red Cross which is doing great work - despite its warehouses being bombed by American planes.

"If we withdrew our SAS commitment and instead spent the money on humanitarian assistance we would be doing something real to help the Afghani people," said Mr Locke.

ENDS

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