The Government has agreed to extend the stay of Kiwi soldiers in Iraq by another 18 months.
Prime Minister John Key announced yesterday that New Zealand’s mission to train Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) would continue until November 2018. The total deployment time will now be three and a half years.
The deployment was set to finish later this year and when the PM visited in October 2015 he said he was reluctant to extend the mission beyond the two-year time frame.
The number of troops deployed would not change under the extension – up to 143 at any time are in Iraq.
In addition to troop deployments, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced that New Zealand will make a $1.4 million contribution to help rebuild communities damaged by fighting in Iraq.
“The funding we have announced today will be provided to the United Nations Development Programme and will be used to deliver a range of projects, including the restoration of water and electricity networks, the reopening of schools and hospitals, and small cash grants for people to reopen businesses,” he said.
To date, around 7000 Iraqi Security Force personnel have been trained by the Australia-New Zealand mission at Taji, including around 975 officers who have graduated from four junior leadership courses.