20 Aug 2021

New Zealand gives $3m in humanitarian assistance for 'dire' Afghanistan situation

2:50 pm on 20 August 2021

New Zealand is providing $3 million in humanitarian assistance to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Refugee Agency in Afghanistan.

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The organisations are providing humanitarian support for people there, and those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta said the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was dire, with millions in need of help and hundreds of thousands displaced by the recent conflict - 80 percent of whom are reported to be women and girls.

"The Red Cross is currently focusing on protection of civilians and provision of essential services including emergency health care, water and sanitation," Mahuta said.

"The UN Refugee Agency is providing a range of protection and assistance support to internally displaced Afghans. It is also supporting Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries.

"It is vital that humanitarian agencies are allowed access to affected populations.

"Aotearoa New Zealand also calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law, protect aid workers and civilians from harm, and support the right to freedom of movement."

Mahuta also called on those in positions of power to "ensure the rights and freedoms of women and girls are protected".

Meanwhile, a C-130 Hercules with military personnel aboard left Auckland yesterday to help with evacuation efforts from Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said those evacuated will be New Zealanders, Afghan nationals and other foreign nationals from Afghanistan.

"The contingent will include air crew and maintenance staff, a medical team to support our personnel, operational support staff, logistics personnel and force protection among others."

They were all vaccinated and would complete managed isolation on their return, Ardern said.

The team was expected to be away for about four weeks.

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