Andrew Little visits NZ troops in Iraq and refugees in Jordan

Opposition Leader Andrew Little has visited New Zealand troops at Camp Taji, Iraq.

Mr Little also met with Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled Al-Obedih and senior military officials from the Coalition forces in Iraq. He now heads to Jordan to see the unfolding refugee crisis first hand.

“I was invited by Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee to visit our troops at Camp Taji. I made the decision to go because it is important to see for myself the work they are doing and the conditions they are working under.

“I was pleased to see the troops are conducting themselves with the skill and professionalism you would expect of the New Zealand Defence Force. It was good to get a chance to talk to them about their experiences in Iraq.

“New Zealanders may differ on the politics of this deployment, but we are all united in our support for our troops on the ground.

“Labour opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, even after years of training by American and other armies.

“The situation in Iraq, as well as Syria, remains hugely challenging and it is not yet certain how the Iraqi security forces will address issues of motivation and discipline, and continuing ethno-sectarian divisions across the whole army. 

“It’s obvious the needs Iraq has won’t be met in the two year period the Government set for the mission, and the Government must now be open with the public about the demands being made of it and its plans.”

Mr Little will now head to Jordan, and will visit the Zaatari Refugee Camp, where 80,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are now based.

“New Zealand has had a history of supporting humanitarian causes. We believe the Government must double the refugee quota and that we should be stepping up support for the people who are suffering in these camps,” Andrew Little says.