21 Mar 2011

NZ gives political support to Libya action

9:12 pm on 21 March 2011

Prime Minister John Key describes air strikes against Libya as necessary, proportionate and legal.

The military action by western countries has been taken to enforce the no-fly zone imposed over Libya by the United Nations Security Council.

The strikes began on Saturday and are aimed at forcing Colonel Gaddafi's troops into a ceasefire and ending attacks on civilians who launched an uprising in February.

Mr Key says it is clear something must be done to stop Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on his own people.

The Prime Minister says no request has been made for New Zealand to contribute to the military action.

He says the Government supports the UN sanctions regime and has already put in place a travel ban on members of the Gaddafi family and its supporters.

An agreement allowing a small number of Libyans to study in New Zealand is being reviewed, he says.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says it is clear the international community had to do something to protect the Libyan people who are being attacked by their own government's forces.

"This is not a situation that anyone welcomes, the decision of the (UN) Security Council was a reluctant one," he says.

Mr McCully says he hopes that in the next day or so a ceasefire in Libya will stick.

Labour Party leader Phil Goff says he supports the air strikes.

Action needed sooner, say Libyans in NZ

Libyans living in New Zealand have welcomed the involvement of the international community but say coalition forces should have acted much sooner.

A community leader in Christchurch, Khalifa Alhafi, says his family and friends in Libya celebrated when they heard the US and European forces had began an assault on the country.

He says the Coalition forces were right to act but they waited too long.

Christchurch resident Husain Benyounis says more lives could have been saved if the decision to attack Libya had been made even a week earlier.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has helped evacuate 29 New Zealanders from Libya in the last couple of weeks.

Four New Zealanders have opted to remain in the country.