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NZDF observers to join UN mission in Sudan

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Hon Mark Burton Minister of Defence

16 May 2005

NZDF observers to join UN mission in Sudan

New Zealand will contribute two military observers to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Defence Minister Mark Burton announced today.

"Two New Zealand Defence Force officers will begin observer roles next month on a one-year deployment. A third officer may deploy later in the year as part of the mission's headquarters staff in southern Sudan.

"Our observers will be working alongside personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Egypt. They will be a distinctive New Zealand commitment to a high-profile mission aimed a resolving a long-standing conflict that has had tragic humanitarian consequences," Mr Burton said.

Mr Goff said a UN resolution in March had established the peacekeeping mission, which will support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between warring Sudanese parties in January.

"New Zealand's recognition of the plight of people in Darfur has seen the government contribute $4 million directly to humanitarian relief efforts there in the last year.

"In June 2004, at the outset of the crisis, we contributed $2 million to the UN consolidated appeal for humanitarian relief efforts, and $500,000 each to New Zealand Red Cross, in support of International Red Cross activities in Sudan, and to Medécins sans Frontières.

"A further $1 million has been provided in support of New Zealand NGOs working in Darfur, western Sudan and in neighboring countries.

"New Zealand, through its international aid agency NZAID, continues to contribute to agencies working in the area. We recently gave $1.3 million to the World Food Programme, which is likely to be spent on assisting refugees in Sudan," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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