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PM welcomes defence personnel home

11 March 2004 Media Statement

PM welcomes defence personnel home

Prime Minister Helen Clark travels to Ohakea this evening to welcome home the New Zealand Defence Force Engineering Group which has been in Basra, in southern Iraq, for the last six months.

Also to be welcomed home are Colonel Neville Reilly and members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, which he has been leading in Bamian, Afghanistan for the last six months.

Helen Clark said that most groups of New Zealand Defence Force personnel had been deployed into areas where the risk level was high.

“Notwithstanding that, these New Zealanders have done outstanding work under very difficult circumstances.

“I have been privileged to have been able to visit both groups deployed in the field, and know of their work first hand and of the difficult conditions in it was undertaken.

“In Basra, our engineering group got on with restoring water supplies, making sure the water was drinkable, building bridges, and doing other civil aid work which helped communities return to normal functioning.

“In Bamian, the Kiwis have helped bring a sense of stability to the province, and helped enable the government to function there, and supervise important aid projects.

“Tonight’s welcome home will be a joyous occasion for the families of those who have been away in deployments which carry a high level of risk, but which have been completed very successfully,” Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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