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Goff welcomes troops back from Lebanon

Goff welcomes troops back from Lebanon

Defence Minister Phil Goff was at Auckland International Airport this weekend to welcome home New Zealand Defence Force personnel from munitions clearing duties in the Lebanon.

“Over the past 12 months our defence force troops from the Army and Navy have done a superb job there,” Phil Goff said.

“They have cleared nearly a third of a million square metres of land and destroyed more than 1800 unexploded cluster bombs and munitions.

“This means that local people in the area where they have been working can now go about their lives without fear that they or their children will be killed or maimed by unexploded ordinance.

“It is a tragedy that long after the conflict ended in Lebanon in 2006, because of the huge number of unexploded cluster munitions, more than 173 civilians have been injured and maimed and 20 killed. More than a third of these casualties were children,” Mr Goff said.

“The work of NZDF personnel in Lebanon builds on a proud tradition of Kiwis clearing mines and munitions in Laos, Cambodia, Mozambique and Afghanistan.

“While this work is important, what we really need to do is move towards prevention as a solution, prohibiting the use of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. The Ottawa Convention a decade ago is an example of how the world has been able to make progress towards banning the use of landmines.

“Next week’s conference on cluster munitions in Wellington will be an important contribution by New Zealand towards reducing the harm caused by cluster munitions as we try to broker agreement between more than 100 countries who will debate how best to achieve this,” Phil Goff said.


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