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NZers in Gulf Advised to Be Prepared

NZers in Gulf Advised to Be Prepared

The Government is advising New Zealanders in the Gulf to take sensible precautions in view of the increased likelihood of conflict in the region, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

"New Zealanders living in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or neighbouring Gulf countries have been advised to stay in contact with their local New Zealand warden (network contact-person) as well as with the New Zealand Embassy in Riyadh. All New Zealanders in the wider Middle East region should register with the nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if they have not already done so," Mr Goff said.

"They should maintain a high level of personal security and ensure that family travel documents are up to date in case urgent travel becomes necessary. We also advise that all vital documents such as bank, taxation, insurance and medical records are quickly accessible.

"We are working closely with those countries New Zealand cooperates with in consular matters, in case we have to respond to conflict or terrorism in the region. Where New Zealand is not represented, the British Embassy or Consulate can provide consular assistance."

"New Zealanders should not visit Iraq. Any New Zealanders in Iraq should leave the country as soon as possible. In the event of hostilities, the 23 who are there as members of the UNMOVIC weapons inspection team or with United Nations agencies would be covered by United Nations evacuation planning."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that just under 3000 New Zealanders live in the Middle East region. The Ministry is not aware of any New Zealanders in Iraq, other than those with the UNMOVIC team and other UN agencies.

"Travel information on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has been updated. New Zealanders considering travel to the Middle East should monitor this carefully," Mr Goff said.

The Ministry's travel information can be found at www.mfat.govt.nz - click on "traveling overseas."

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