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NZDF deployment to Iraq

NZDF deployment to Iraq

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today that an engineering detachment of 61 New Zealand Defence Force personnel will be deployed in late September to work alongside the United Kingdom forces, and the forces of other countries led by the UK, which are currently engaged in humanitarian and reconstruction tasks in South-East Iraq.

“UN Security Council Resolution 1483 made it clear that the UN has a vital role to play in the post-war period. It also appealed to UN member states to assist the people of Iraq in their efforts to rebuild their country and to contribute to conditions of stability and security in Iraq,” Helen Clark said.

“The government has consistently said that New Zealand was prepared to provide humanitarian and reconstruction assistance at the end of the conflict, provided that there was appropriate multilateral cover.

“Resolution 1483 calls on those in a position to do so to provide assistance, and it is consistent with our obligations under the UN Charter that New Zealand should provide such assistance.

“Under Resolution 1483, we can make a useful contribution without in any way becoming an occupying power. The government is also pleased that New Zealand has the opportunity to operate once again alongside British forces while we engage in humanitarian and reconstruction work,” Helen Clark said.

Mark Burton said that NZDF engineers would work to repair and refurbish hospitals, health clinics, schools, police stations, law courts, and municipal and government buildings. In addition, they will assist in restoring electricity, and the rebuilding of bridges and water pipelines. Two NZDF staff officers will be stationed at the UK headquarters in Basra, and two staff officer will be sent to the UK Engineer Headquarters in Shaibah.

“As the current situation shows, there is an urgent need for the kind of civil reconstruction and support that New Zealand can offer,” Mark Burton said.

“Iraq is a challenging environment, but the NZDF is ideally suited to undertake this work, which is so vital to restoring normality for the Iraqi people. “Our personnel have an international reputation for excellence. New Zealand’s calm, co-operative style has been enhanced by working alongside different forces in such diverse situations as Bosnia, Bougainville, Timor Leste, and most recently, our current deployment to the Solomon Islands.

“As is the case with all deployments, the situation will be closely monitored to ensure that conditions allow the NZDF to undertake the tasks for which they were deployed.”

The detachment will initially be deployed for six months, with an option of a second six-month rotation.

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