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Afghan Humanitarian aid and development package

10 November 2001 Media Statement

Humanitarian aid and development package: Afghanistan


Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of overseas aid Matt Robson today announced an aid and development package for Afghanistan.

He launched the package at the Alliance Annual Conference in Auckland.

“The Alliance has worked hard in government to address the suffering of refuges from the conflict. The New Zealand government sent $1 million of aid last month, and today I am announcing the government’s humanitarian aid and development package for Afghanistan,” Matt Robson said.

“These are a set of short term and long term steps. The most immediate concern is getting relief aid into the refugee camps, both inside and outside Afghanistan. New Zealand has offered to send:

- A C130 plane to assist in the delivery of aid.
- A medical team for refugee camps.
- Engineers to assist in refugee camps.

“To enable us to carry through on these offers:

- My colleague Phil Goff and I have agreed that he will discuss the aid package with the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees and the Office of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs while in New York next week, to establish what may be needed and when.
- A fund of up to a quarter of a million dollars will be available for the government to assist the work of NGOs in New Zealand who are already fund-raising and active on the ground in Afghanistan.
- If and when New Zealand teams travel to Afghanistan to assist with humanitarian aid, either myself or Phil Goff hope to travel with them.

“At all times we must bear in mind New Zealand’s modest resources. We cannot hope to compete with the budgets of bigger countries. But we can offer assistance which is uniquely New Zealand.

“We must also make sure we stay within the parameters of our established development framework. Our new aid agency, announced in September will have a clear focus on poverty reduction and our own Pacific region.

“We all know that terrorists recruit in the countries where there is greatest poverty, insecurity and conflict. Properly directed development aid will help to create a new environment of opportunity and safety, not only in the Pacific region but in Afghanistan too.

“Today I am announcing that New Zealand is willing to play a part in a co-ordinated international framework for Afghanistan once the fighting is over. Our experience in East Timor is invaluable. Although these are two very different countries, we now have experience in helping a country re-build itself.

New Zealand’s longer term role in Afghanistan will:

- Be part of an international effort led by the United Nations to consolidate peace.
- Offer assistance that could range from help to rebuild government institutions in Afghanistan through training programmes, to the offer of experts on the ground.
- Assist with a de-mining programme (New Zealand military engineers trained Afghan people to disarm landmines in the 1980s after the war with the Soviet Union,) if required.
- Support agriculture rehabilitation programmes, if required, to ensure adequate food security in the medium to long term, and develop cash crops that are an alternative to poppies that have been grown for the production of opium.

Other initiatives include:

- Commitment from the New Zealand government to work towards the extension the Financial Action Task Force (which works to stop avenues for money laundering). An extension would cover terrorist funding, especially in our own region of the Pacific.
- Participation in the United Nations Conference for Financing Development to be held in Mexico in March of next year. This conference will play a key role in creating the conditions for security in the world, after the conflict in Afghanistan.

ENDS

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