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Govt Assistance to Op Enduring Freedom and Iraq

Government assistance to Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraq

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced decisions on further New Zealand contributions to support humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Helen Clark also announced the government would continue to make a significant contribution to the fight against terrorism under Operation Enduring Freedom.

Iraq

“For many months now I have consistently stated that New Zealand would look to assist in the rebuilding of Iraq once the conflict was over and the necessary multilateral cover had been provided,” Helen Clark said.

“UN Security Council Resolution 1483 was passed last month and makes it clear that the UN should play a vital role in humanitarian relief, the reconstruction of Iraq, and the restoration and establishment of national and local institutions for representative governance.

“The resolution also appeals to member states of the UN to assist the people of Iraq in their efforts to rebuild their country and to contribute to conditions of stability and security in Iraq.

“There is also a very clear differentiation between the occupying powers and their unified command (the Authority) on the one hand, and countries working the Authority on the other.

“Resolution 1483 calls on those in a position to do so to provide assistance. It has been adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and it is consistent with our obligations under the Charter that New Zealand should try to provide such assistance. Furthermore, it is clear that we can do so without in any way becoming an occupying power.

“It has therefore been decided that we will provide a New Zealand Defence Force engineering group of up to 60 personnel, inclusive of support staff, to work on reconstruction tasks in southern Iraq.

“This engineering group will operate with a UK unit. We are pleased to have the opportunity to operate once again with the British on humanitarian work. This engineering group will be engaged for up to twelve months. “Up to three NZDF personnel will be based in the British divisional headquarters to support the New Zealand presence.

“The first step will be reconnaissance visits to flesh out the shape of these deployments. These visits will be undertaken this month.

“The government has also looked at making a civilian contribution to the reconstruction effort in Iraq. One such area is agriculture, where we have decided to contribute NZ$1 million to rehabilitate the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry building in Baghdad. We will also offer scholarships and custom-made agriculture training courses in New Zealand.

The New Zealand contribution will enable the rebuilding of the Agriculture Ministry building to be completed (Australia has also made a contribution) The scholarships and training courses will help meet the needs of a generation of young Iraqis who have missed out on education in this critical sector. Saddam Hussein's regime effectively removed most Iraqis from international economic and social interchange. The training we are offering is aimed at assisting the people of Iraq to re-engage with international society.” OEF-Afghanistan

“In addition to the new call for nations to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq, New Zealand continues to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom. The campaign against the terrorist groups which have launched international attacks in different parts of the world remains a major international security issue. New Zealand has been continuously involved in that effort since late 2001.

Our special forces participated in fighting in Afghanistan for a full year The Royal New Zealand Navy has been engaged in interdiction work in the Gulf region for the last six months An Orion surveillance plane has been deployed to support the interdiction work A C130 Hercules transport plane will shortly be deployed to Kyrgyzstan to support coalition activities in Afghanistan

“It is now time to contribute to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The Afghan provisional government is working with a number of countries to establish security and rebuild society across Afghanistan. A significant part of this effort is through the deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

“Provincial Reconstruction Teams involve relatively small numbers (50-100) of personnel, and are designed to assist the transitional government under President Karzai expand its influence outside Kabul. The focus is on enhancing the security environment and promoting the reconstruction effort, while monitoring and assessing civil, political, and military reform efforts through community engagement.

“A PRT is not a combat unit. It provides a strengthened military observer capacity, which also acts as a centre for the facilitation of NGO and other civilian contributions to reconstruction. A similar approach was successfully tried in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.”

Three PRTs have already been established by the United States Central Command and the British will establish a fourth this month. A further four are to be established by September 2003.

New Zealand intends to contribute to a PRT. If it proves to be within our capacities, that contribution will extend to leading a PRT.

An NZDF reconnaissance team is already in the field and will report back shortly on how best New Zealand can contribute to a PRT.

In addition, two NZDF non-commissioned officers will be deployed to work with a UK team providing command and leadership training to the Afghan National Army in Kabul for 12 months from September 2003. Professional and well-trained non-commissioned officers are the backbone of any disciplined army. The New Zealand contribution is intended as a long-term investment in the establishment of a multi-ethnic Afghan National Army. This new army is a key element in re-establishing security in Afghanistan. Our contribution to this effort is intended to complement the PRT contribution.

The Royal New Zealand Navy has made a significant contribution to maritime interdiction operations under Operation Enduring Freedom. Although that deployment is now winding up, and Te Mana will leave the theatre on 26 June, a further deployment some time in the future could well be possible,” Helen Clark said.

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