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'NGO Support For Hercules'?

18 December 2001

Kia ora,

Earlier today we received the media release below which came as an email message with the subject heading 'NGO support for Hercules'.

This somewhat duplicitous release from Matt Robson refers, we assume, to Helen Clark’s announcement yesterday “that the World Food Programme has accepted New Zealand's offer of a C-130 transport plane to deliver humanitarian supplies into Afghanistan. Helen Clark said that the plane would be deployed, with supporting personnel, in February 2002 for a period of up to six months.”

How strange that Matt Robson’s release does not point out that the humanitarian mission will not take place until February, and ignores completely the other part of the announcement by Helen Clark (NZ War Cabinet) that “New Zealand is also informing the United Nations Security Council of its decision to join other states in the employment of military assets in Afghanistan in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In this respect New Zealand Defence Force C-130s will be providing logistical support in Afghanistan this week.”

Matt Robson says below - "The reality is, the Afghan people have been living at ground zero for decades. Now we have the opportunity to help them re-build.” Well, of course, that’s obviously why the NZ government are sending “military assets” such as SAS troops to Afghanistan; it’s just as well the Skyhawks squadrons have been disbanded or they might have been sent to assist in re-building too.

As John Pilger wrote on 17 November ... this war of lies goes on.

18 December 2001

Media Statement, Matt Robson

Support for NZ aid and Hercules

Aid organisations like World Vision appreciate the offer of Hercules planes to assist with aid in Afghanistan, Minister in charge of aid, Matt Robson says.

Today World Vision contacted him to show their appreciation, and highlight the huge need for assistance in the distribution of food and relief aid.

World Vision is working very closely with the United Nation's World Food Programme in North West Afghanistan, delivering food aid to over 500,000 people, with a budget of nearly $10 million.

"I met with an aid worker yesterday who has been working in Northern Afghanistan for nine years with all sorts of organisations. She has just finished an assignment with Unicef," says Matt Robson.

"She paints a grim picture of life in Afghanistan. A quarter of all children die under the age of five. 30% of women die in childbirth.

"In the north there has been no secondary or tertiary education for twenty years.

"Although Kabul and other cities will be central locations in terms of the delivery of aid and assistence, she stressed the need not to neglect the rural areas.

"Rural areas in particular have been decimated. The trees have gone, used for firewood long ago. Animal diseases, including anthrax, are rife

"Afghan children have been traumatised. Many have seen a sibling, a parent or a member of their family die of preventable causes.

"The reality is, the Afghan people have been living at ground zero for decades. Now we have the opportunity to help them re-build.”

Ends

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tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173, pma@xtra.co.nz
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