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NZ Red Cross Nurses Head To Iraq

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TO: News Editor
Number of pages: 1

Media Release For immediate use


Two New Zealand Red Cross nurses have left New Zealand today (Sunday 16 March) to assist the International Red Cross relief response in case of conflict in Iraq.

Louisa Akavi, of Wellington, and Judy Owen, of Auckland, will initially travel to Geneva for briefings with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), before travelling on to the Middle East. Both are highly-experienced medical delegates, having worked in a wide range of conflict situations from Chechnya and Somalia to the Solomon Islands.

NZRC's Acting Director General, Michael Smith, said the deployment reflects the Red Cross commitment towards being able to respond quickly and effectively to any humanitarian crisis anywhere in the world.

"As a neutral and independent organisation, the Red Cross Movement will not take sides or express a political opinion on the situation regarding Iraq," Mr Smith said.

"While we hope that conflict can still be avoided, New Zealand Red Cross is proud to be able to put forward two delegates of such high calibre to assist with any relief effort, should it be required."

The ICRC has maintained a permanent presence in Iraq since 1980, carrying out a range of activities, including the upkeep and repair of water and sanitation infrastructure, hospitals and health centres. It plans to maintain its presence inside Iraq in the case of conflict.

The deployment is additional to a $25,000 cash pledge made to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in February, to help prepare for possible population movements out of Iraq.

Editors: For further information, please contact: New Zealand Red Cross Acting Director-General, Michael Smith, at 04-4723750 (work). For more information on ICRC activities in Iraq, please contact: Nada Doumani, ICRC Geneva, at ++41 22 730 2756.

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