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15 July 2008

New Zealand Defence Force officer to assist UN in Darfur

The Government has approved a request from the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to redeploy a New Zealand military liaison officer from Sudan’s capital Khartoum to Darfur, Defence Minister Phil Goff said today.

The New Zealand Army officer will assist over the next two weeks with planning of contingency measures for any withdrawal of UN personnel in the event of attacks against UN forces. This follows the killing of seven UN soldiers and wounding of 19 others in an attack in Darfur last week and the International Criminal Court’s indictments against the President of Sudan, President Al Bashir, Phil Goff said.

“The United Nations has requested support from the New Zealand Defence Force to plan for a worst case scenario in Sudan. Reports from the wider area state that the overall situation in the country is calm, and there have been no concerted moves against the UN. However there is the potential for tensions to escalate.

“While the situation is volatile in Darfur, the UN and the New Zealand Defence Force state that appropriate security exists for the deployment of the New Zealand officer to Darfur,” Phil Goff said.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) currently has four officers assigned to UNMIS. Two officers are based in Khartoum as HQ UNMIS staff and two others are based in Southern Sudan as Military Observers.

Currently 625 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are deployed on 16 operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world.


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