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New Zealand Red Cross increases commitment


21 February 2005

New Zealand Red Cross increases commitment of aid workers to Aceh

Another two New Zealanders will soon join two New Zealand nurses currently assisting the International Red Cross relief effort in the Indonesian province of Aceh.

The New Zealanders are among about 80 expatriate specialist Red Cross workers and thousands of local Red Cross workers and volunteers involved in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) tsunami relief effort in Aceh.

New Zealand Red Cross operations manager Andrew McKie, who returned this week from a tsunami relief planning meeting in Indonesia, says the ICRC has been in the region since long before the tsunami and maintains robust security measures.

“Every aid worker with the Red Cross has a security briefing when they arrive in Aceh, they have secure working and living arrangements and there is an after-hours curfew. The ICRC is committed to assuring the security of its workers wherever they are in the world and has many years of experience in this particular region,” Mr McKie says.

Marion Picken from Wellington and Colleen Clarke from Taupo are currently nursing in a 100-bed field Red Cross hospital in Banda Aceh. Marion Picken is due to return home next week and Colleen Clarke is expected to remain in Banda Aceh until mid-May.

They will be joined in Aceh over the next week by New Zealand Red Cross logistics specialist Robert McEwan (currently living in Canada) and Auckland nurse Judy Owen.

Judy Owen, who will initially spend six weeks in Aceh, says she is used to working in conflict situations with the ICRC and has confidence in its security measures. “The ICRC has been permanently in Aceh since 1999 because of the conflict so it is very experienced in dealing with the underlying conflict situation,” she says. “Because it works in conflict areas, the ICRC has a huge pool of resources and experience to draw on when you have a situation like this where there is a perceived threat.”


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