30 August 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has hosted a multi-national exercise in Auckland this week to strengthen and improve humanitarian assistance operations in the South West Pacific.
Thirty-one representatives from the NZDF, Australian Defence Force, People’s Liberation Army of China, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia have taken part in the desk-top exercise, which ends today.
One of the themes has been supporting the evacuation of civilians following a disaster, and participants have been studying what happened when civilians were evacuated from Ambae Island in Vanuatu in 2017, after a volcano erupted.
They have also been looking at enhancing the role of women in the peace process and ensuring whole populations are included when planning disaster responses, lessening the disproportionate impact of disasters on women and girls.
Lead planner Major Nigel Elder, of the New Zealand Army, said the exercise was a chance for military personnel from the countries involved to discuss issues of mutual concern, including how things could be done better when disaster struck.
“We have been discussing working to support both government and non-government agencies in how civilians are evacuated, and also the United Nations Security Council resolution regarding women in peace and security,” he said.
That resolution calls for increased participation of women at all levels of decision-making, the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence in emergency and humanitarian situations, and improving intervention strategies in the prevention of violence against women.
The exercise has involved presentations from subject matter experts, panel discussions and a series of table-top exercises.
Representatives from other government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Defence, the Australian Civic-Military Centre, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Red Cross and other international non-government organisations, attended the exercise.