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De-mining specialists deploy to Iraq

De-mining specialists deploy to Iraq

Minister of Defence Mark Burton today announced the departure date of two New Zealand Defence Force de-mining specialists.

Major Stephen Pantling and Major Todd Hart will leave on Saturday, 24 May, to join members of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Kuwait, prior to being deployed to Iraq. The officers, both from 2 Land Force Group in Linton, will assist in the development of United Nations mine action rapid response plan for Iraq.

Mark Burton stressed the importance of the de-mining work.

“Humanitarian assistance cannot currently be undertaken safely in many parts of Iraq. Landmines and unexploded munitions are presenting a serious danger, both to the Iraqi people and aid workers.

“NZDF personnel have won international recognition for their expertise and capability in de-mining. Our role is to advise the UN during the establishment of their de-mining programme in Iraq, as well as to train the personnel who will be undertaking de-mining activities.

“As announced last month, New Zealand has also approved an additional 11 NZDF personnel for deployment on the request of UNMAS, to provide mine safety training and emergency assessments.

“De-mining is an NZDF specialty. I’m proud that New Zealand can continue to make a valuable contribution to humanitarian and reconstruction activities in post-conflict Iraq.”

Major Hart has been appointed operations officer with the Headquarters of UNMAS in Baghdad, while Major Pantling will act as a liaison officer in Basra.

In addition, an NZDF officer seconded to the UNMAS office in New York, Major Martyn Donoghue, has been deployed by the United Nations to Baghdad to help establish the headquarters.

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