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New Zealand strengthens deployment in Afghanistan


New Zealand strengthens deployment in Afghanistan

New Zealand’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan has been strengthened following Cabinet’s approval for the deployment of an additional 18 New Zealand Defence Force personnel, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Defence Minister Phil Goff announced today.

“The additional troops will begin joining the existing deployment of NZDF personnel based in Bamyan province and in the support element for the PRT during the next rotation of personnel this month. This will lift the total authorised deployed strength for the PRT to a maximum of 140 personnel.

“The threat level in Bamyan Province remains at medium. The positive support given by the local, predominantly Hazara, people to New Zealand’s PRT and its active patrolling of the province has helped to ensure that Bamyan is more stable than most areas of Afghanistan.

“The deployment to Bamyan, however, has never been without risk. That was underlined last weekend when an improvised explosive device was detonated near an NZDF vehicle, which was part of a convoy on its way to visit a medical clinic in the north east of Bamyan Province,” Helen Clark and Phil Goff said.

Helen Clark said that the government had undertaken a review of the numbers of New Zealanders deployed to the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

“We have been concerned about the level of instability in some neighbouring provinces and the potential for that to spill over into Bamyan province.

“The strengthened deployment will give the PRT more support as it undertakes its core tasks in the province, and reflects our ongoing commitment to Afghanistan’s security and development,” Helen Clark said.

“The New Zealand PRT is involved in a broad range of activities, including supporting NZAID projects in the province. The valuable work we do was publicly recognised by Dr Sarabi, the Governor of Bamyan province during her recent visit to Wellington,” Phil Goff said.

“New Zealand shares the international community’s interest in a stable Afghanistan in which Afghans can enjoy increasing standards of living. That is why we have committed defence personnel to Afghanistan since late 2001,” Helen Clark said.


ends

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