Defence force members headed to the Middle East

Defence force members headed to the Middle East

New Zealand is sending a six-member Defence Force team to the Middle East to maintain maritime security in the Red Sea, according to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon. He condemns the Houthi attacks on commercial and naval shipping as illegal and highly destabilising.

This deployment, as part of a global coalition, continues New Zealand’s longstanding commitment to safeguarding navigation freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. The team will aid in the collective self-defence of ships in the Middle East, following international law, from various operational headquarters in the region. It’s important to note that no NZDF personnel will set foot in Yemen. This is a continuation of New Zealand’s defence contribution to Middle East maritime security since 2013.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters states that the international coalition’s strikes are targeting Houthi military units involved in attacking commercial and naval vessels. He emphasises that these efforts bolster international security and the free trade that New Zealanders depend on.

Defence Minister Judith Collins points out that the Houthi attacks demonstrate a lack of respect for international law, peace, and stability, and the coalition’s response is a direct result of their actions. She praises the NZDF personnel for their high level of training and highlights that this deployment will allow them to work with their counterparts on a crucial mission. She reaffirms New Zealand’s commitment to global stability and its dedication to addressing serious threats to that stability.

Peters insists that New Zealand’s efforts to maintain maritime security in the Red Sea should not be confused with its stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict. He dismisses any claims that their ongoing support for maritime security in the Middle East is linked to recent events in Israel and the Gaza Strip. He clarifies that New Zealand’s contribution to this military action is driven by its deep concern for regional security, which is crucial for its economic and strategic interests.

The deployment is scheduled to end no later than 31 July 2024.