PM announces further assistance for Zaire

  • Jim Bolger
Prime Minister

New Zealand will give $100,000 to the appeal launched by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for field operations in Rwanda and Burundi for returning refugees, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger, announced today.

"Obviously the voluntary return home of large numbers of refugees from Zaire is welcome news", Mr Bolger said, "but it is crucial that the refugees can be reintegrated successfully. Ensuring that fundamental human rights are respected is especially important if further refugees are to be encouraged to return to their home areas and if any flow back across borders is to be prevented," the Prime Minister commented.

Mr Bolger said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had been monitoring closely the return of refugees and had called for a substantial increase in the number of human rights observers to carry out this task. The observers would assist local authorities in addressing issues of justice and conciliation, security and the needs of returnees as well as other groups of the population.

The contribution to the human rights appeal comes on top of the $200,000 provided by the Government earlier this month to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross for the refugee crisis.

The Prime Minister also confirmed that New Zealand would be represented at the planning meeting for the UN authorised Multi-National Force to be held in Stuttgart, Germany, this evening New Zealand time.

"The meeting is expected to review the future and scope of the mission of the Force since the large scale movement of refugees homewards began", Mr Bolger said.

"We need to make an assessment whether there might be a role for New Zealand in the Multi-National Force. Should it proceed, this could perhaps involve joining in a humanitarian airlift under the control of the Force."

A senior New Zealand Defence Force officer from the Defence Staff in London is travelling to Stuttgart for the meeting.