25 May 2012
Six NZ Defence Force personnel arrived in Syria this week to join the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).
The New Zealand Government responded to an urgent request from the UN earlier this month, and offered to deploy five Defence Force personnel to Syria as military observers monitoring the agreed cessation of armed violence. The UN subsequently asked for an additional NZ Defence Force officer to take up a role in UNSMIS headquarters.
Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, Major General Dave Gawn, says the Defence Force has a strong relationship with the United Nations, supporting these types of deployments.
"New Zealand is a valued international partner committed to a multilateral UN approach to peace and security. The Defence Force currently has 23 personnel serving as peacekeepers on UN missions in eight countries around the world, from Timor-Leste and Afghanistan, to Iraq and South Sudan. The Defence Force also has a long standing commitment to UNTSO in Southern Lebanon, Israel and Syria.
"Our personnel are well prepared and well trained for the situations they may encounter in Syria. Their ability to work independently, think logically and impartially, and establish professional relationships with a variety of personnel, make them ideally suited to work as military observers as part of UNSMIS."
UNSMIS is mandated to provide up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria to monitor an agreed cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.
For further information contact Kirsty Taylor-Doig phone 021 806 926