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More NZ assistance to Afghanistan

13 December 2004 Media Statement
More NZ assistance to Afghanistan

New Zealand is providing $3.8 million of extra assistance to improve security, support local government and rebuild infrastructure in Afghanistan, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"New Zealand is participating, along with many other members of the international community, to restore security, economic and social development in Afghanistan," Marian Hobbs said.

"The people of Afghanistan have endured significant hardship in recent years and this extra commitment by New Zealand will be very much appreciated. And, we know it will make a difference.”

New Zealand’s contribution, through the government’s international aid and development agency NZAID, has totalled just under $10 million since 2001. This has funded contributions to UN agencies and Non-Government-Organisations (NGOs) working in Afghanistan, as well as the reconstruction work carried out by the Provincial Reconstruction Team, deployed by the New Zealand Defence Force.

NZAID will allocate $2.3 million for reconstruction through the NZDF, to assist security sector reform and rehabilitate local government facilities and infrastructure, and $1.5 million through UN agencies and local counterparts.

A focus of New Zealand’s work in Afghanistan has been Bamyan province, where the NZDF team is deployed, especially the project to re-establish Bamyan University.

"Our goal is to place Bamyan University on the path towards being a fully functional, high quality, and sustainable education provider, for both men and women," Marian Hobbs said. "It is the only tertiary institution in the Central Highlands at present, so our work is doubly important. So far, we have had very favourable feedback from the Afghan authorities on our assistance."

NZAID will continue support to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission as part of its good governance activities.

"We want to see free, fair and safe Parliamentary elections next year setting Afghanistan on a track to stable and peaceful democracy," the minister said.
Agriculture and community development will also be important, as it will give rural communities incentives to move away from opium poppy cultivation.

"We've got to stop the vicious cycle of insecurity and scarce economic opportunities feeding factionalism, violence, and drug trafficking. We will do our bit with the international community to tackle lawlessness and illicit activities now," Marian Hobbs said.

ENDS

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