Government extends Defence Force deployments to Middle East and Africa

The government has extended Defence Force (NZDF) deployments to Africa and the Middle East, including supporting United Nations efforts on contested Israel and Arab country borders.

The deployments have been extended until September 2026, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced in a joint statement on Friday.

  • Three people for the United Nations (UN) Mission in South Sudan, which New Zealand has taken part in since 2011.
  • A 28-person contingent for the Multinational Force and Observers, based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, to monitor the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
  • Eight people for the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation in the Middle East, which has troops in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Syria including in the Golan Heights.
  • The UN mission on the contested borders in the Middle East, which New Zealand has been part of since 1954, acts as a neutral arbiter between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

    Israel launched its assault on Gaza following a Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October which killed 1200 people and led to more than 250 hostages, by Israeli tallies. Since then, Israel’s assault in Gaza has killed more than 35,000 people, with thousands more feared buried under the rubble, according to Gaza health authorities.

    The conflict has also escalated clashes on the border, in particular with Lebanon.

    More than 250 Hezbollah members and 75 civilians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Lebanon since October, security sources there say. In Israel, missile fire coming from Lebanon has killed around a dozen troops and several civilians, Israeli sources say.

    In Sudan, war erupted a year ago between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, creating the world’s largest displacement crisis. The UN has said nearly 25 million people, half of Sudan’s population, need aid and some eight million have fled their homes.

    Collins said the NZDF deployments reflected “ongoing interest in promoting peace and stability, and making active contributions to the maintenance of the international rules-based system”.

    Peters said the security and stability challenges in the Middle East and Africa could have wider consquences, including on the security of New Zealand.

    “This is why New Zealand contributes to peacekeeping deployments to maintain stability and promote peace in the Middle East and in Africa.”

    During his visit to Egypt in April, Peters announced $6 million in humanitarian aid to those affected by conflict in Gaza and Sudan.

    Middle Eastern maritime security

    New Zealand’s participation in maritime missions in the Middle East, including the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in Bahrain, will continue for a further two years, until June 2026.

    “This reflects the importance New Zealand places on freedom of navigation and the safety of sea trading lanes. Events impacting the free flow of trade through this region can rapidly have flow on effects for New Zealand,” Collins said.

    The government said this was different from the New Zealand deployment to the US-led coalition undertaking strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen and the Red Sea.

    New Zealand has contributed to Middle East maritime security efforts since the 1990s, and to the Combined Maritime Forces since 2013.

    NZDF will also command the Combined Task Force 150 on a six-month rotation basis starting from early next year.

    This task force is responsible for coordinating multinational activities with the aim of countering smuggling, piracy and terrorism in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

    The two Anzac class frigates, HMNZS Te Kaha and HMNZS Te Mana, will support this mission for a two-month period.

    In addition, a mine countermeasure task unit will be deployed to United States Naval Forces Central Command for six months, some time between May 2025 and June 2026.

    The ministers’ statement said this deployment to the US aimed to promote open sea lines of communication alongside partners.

    “These deployments provide significant opportunities for the New Zealand Defence Force to develop and test skills and capabilities that are vital for protecting New Zealand’s interests,” Collins said.

    According to the news on Radio New Zealand

    Related News

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Back to top button