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Status of Kiwi Salvation Army Contingent To Iraq

Wellington, Tuesday, 13 April 2004


Status Of The Kiwi Salvation Army Contingent To Iraq

Background:

The Salvation Army’s community re-establishment programme is based in Al Amarah, southeastern Iraq. The Salvation Army has been working in Iraq since August last year. Five New Zealand Salvationists were scheduled to begin work in Al Amarah early this month but the current unrest in Iraq has delayed plans.

Questions and Answers
Q: Are there any Salvation Army workers currently in Iraq?
A: No. A group of Salvation Army workers left Iraq in the last week. They were due to be replaced this month with a new team, including five New Zealand Salvationists. The entry of the replacement team has been delayed because of the unrest in Iraq.

Q: Who are the New Zealand Salvationists on the Iraq team?
A: Captain Bruce Coffey, Captain Pauline Coffey, Lieut-Colonel Lil Greig (Oxford), Diane Peck (Oxford) and Martyn Smith (Hamilton).

Q: Where are the New Zealand Salvationists now and what are they doing?
A: Captains Bruce and Pauline Coffey are currently in Kuwait. They are closely monitoring the situation in Iraq before a decision is made on when to go to Al Amarah. The Coffey’s are using this time to meet with United Nations and other groups to discuss future plans for the Salvation Army programme in Iraq.

Lieut-Colonel Lil Greig, Dianne Peck and Martyn Smith are currently in New Zealand. Their travel plans have been put on hold for one week to allow an opportunity to better assess the situation in Iraq.

Q: How does the Salvation Army know what’s going on in Iraq?
A: Salvation Army workers appointed to Iraq are maintaining close contact with the coalition military in Iraq and are in daily contact with local employees based in Al Amarah. We are getting a good picture of the situation in Al Amarah.

Q: Is the Salvation Army’s aid effort in Iraq in danger?
A: The Salvation Army intends to continue its community re-establishment programme in Iraq, but the safety and security of our personnel remains our key concern. No attempt will be made to recommence the programme until we are convinced that the unrest has abated. Local employees (Iraqis) are continuing to manage many of The Salvation Army’s projects in Al Amarah.

Q: Who will make the decision about whether it’s safe for the New Zealand Salvationists to enter Iraq?
A: The Salvation Army’s Chief of the Staff, Commissioner Israel L. Gaither, has been taking a very close interest in the situation. Commissioner Gaither has instructed that no Salvation Army team members may enter Iraq without his personal approval. Commissioner Gaither, based at Salvation Army International Headquarters in London is the Army’s chief executive officer. Commissioner Gaither visited New Zealand in February of this year.

Q: When will a decision be made about going into Iraq?
A: The Salvation Army is monitoring the situation in Iraq closely. There is no set date for a decision. Salvation Army workers will be given permission to enter Iraq as soon as we are convinced that the unrest has abated. The safety and security of our personnel remains our key concern.

Q: What has The Salvation Army aid effort in Iraq involved?
A: The Salvation Army’s community re-establishment programme has included the reconstruction of more than 50 schools and medical centres, the establishment of sewing and computer training programmes, clearing open sewer drains and resettlement of returnees. The Salvation Army has managed humanitarian aid projects funded by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the New Zealand Government.

Q: Do you have any other comment?
A: The current unrest in Iraq is both a concern and a great disappointment. Our programme has achieved much for the people of Al Amarah and great relationships have been established with the community. We look forward to being able to return to Iraq to help improve the lives of Iraqi’s.

Shaw Clifton
Commissioner
Territorial Commander

ENDS

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