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NZ Contributes to Mid-East Peace

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence
17 Dec 06

NZ Contributes to Mid-East Peace

Defence Minister Phil Goff today announced that New Zealand Defence Force personnel will deploy to Lebanon in the new year as part of a UN force to clear unexploded ordnance. Mr Goff is currently in the Middle East on a trade and defence mission.

"The New Zealand Defence Force will contribute two, ten person explosive ordnance disposal teams to the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Southern Lebanon (UNMACC-SL). The teams will consist of four explosive ordnance disposal technicians and six surveyors who will work together to locate, map and destroy unexploded ordnance.

"Each team will deploy for six months. New Zealand's contribution of twelve months is in accordance with the UNMACC-SL timetable to have the area cleared of unexploded ordnance by December 2007. The teams will operate alongside private sector organisations engaged in similar work, under contract to UNMACC-SL who will also provide logistic and administrative support to the New Zealanders.

"New Zealanders have earned an enviable reputation for their work around the world in the management and disposal of unexploded ordnance. This niche and highly valuable contribution to UN operations will fill a vital role in making the cities and countryside safe for the people of Southern Lebanon as they rebuild their lives.

"New Zealand has a long standing commitment to peace in the Middle East, in addition to our contribution to UNMACC-SL announced today, Cabinet has also extended New Zealand's contribution to the UN Truce Supervisory Organisation (UNTSO) in Lebanon to 2008.

New Zealand has contributed personnel to UNTSO for over 50 years and currently provides seven UN observers. Our commitment to UNTSO will remain at eight, but, at the request of the UN, New Zealand officers will take up two senior positions within the mission, Chief of Operations in late 2006 and Chief of Observer Group Golan-Damascus in early 2008.

"The experience and expertise of the New Zealand Defence Force in peace support operations in the Middle East was recognised by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces who have deployed a contingent to UNIFIL and requested New Zealand support for pre-deployment training. The New Zealand Army has a close working relationship with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and provided a training team to assist with the development of a pre-deployment training package", said Mr Goff.

ENDS

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