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NZ extends role in UN peacekeeping mission in Iraq

Minister of Defence
Media statement

30 September 2008

NZ extends role in UN peacekeeping mission in Iraq

Defence Minister Phil Goff announced today that New Zealand's commitment to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Iraq (UNAMI) is to be extended for a further year, to 31 December 2009.

"On 7 August, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed UN Security Council Resolution 1830 (2008), extending the UNAMI mandate for one year to August 2009," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand has one Defence Force officer serving as a military liaison officer for UNAMI.

"UNAMI is mandated to assist the Government of Iraq with advancing political and national reconciliation, facilitate humanitarian assistance and the voluntary return of refugees, implement capacity building programmes for the provision of essential services and promote the protection of human rights and political freedoms," Mr Goff said.

"New Zealand has contributed a military liaison officer to UNAMI since September 2004. We have also contributed emergency humanitarian relief and other assistance worth over $17 million to Iraq. Initially, this was through the UN Development Group Iraq Trust Fund, but also in 2003 - 04 New Zealand deployed a Defence Force light engineer group to carry out humanitarian and reconstruction tasks near Basra.

"More recent assistance has focused on humanitarian relief with contributions to the UN High Commission for Refugees for assistance to Iraqi refugees and to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"Security in Iraq is improving, but remains fragile," Phil Goff said.

"Concerted political and security efforts, including a new assertiveness by the Iraqi Government, a pullback by Shi'a militias, and a repudiation by Sunni tribes of religious extremism have led to a decline in the number and frequency of violent attacks, especially in the Sunni Arab areas. This progress is positive," Phil Goff said.

The extension of the deployment of the military liaison officer for one year will cost an estimated $216,000.


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