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Operation Restore Hope



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

ALEXANDER DOWNER MEMBER FOR MAYO SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

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OPERATION RESTORE HOPE

The Federal Coalition today called for Australia to commit a substantial force to Operation Restore Hope - the UN relief and peacekeeping operation in Somalia.

The Australian Defence Force has the personnel and skills needed to make a valuable contribution to this operation. Given the urgent humanitarian need at hand, the Federal Government should be prepared to supplement the Defence budget to underwrite the cost of a force commitment.

"The Labor Government should respond quickly to the request made by the US Ambassador to Australia to increase our force commitment to Somalia", said Shadow Defence Minister Alexander Downer.

"Australian Forces have served in a number of United Nations operations in Africa: In Namibia and currently in the Western Sahara.

"Neither of these past substantial force commitments were in response to humanitarian crises as dire as the crisis facing Somalia.

"To support this humanitarian operation, Australia should significantly increase the number of Defence Force personnel committed to the relief effort.

"The number and composition of any potential Australian force will depend largely on the particular skills required by the United Nations and their current availability from the Services.

"For example, because of the size of our peacekeeping contribution in Cambodia, it is unlikely that communications personnel could be spared.

"However the Defence Forces are able to contribute many specialised talents to any prospective operation.

"In view of the seriousness of the situation in Somalia, the Labor Government should not delay their decision about participation for too long."

(ends) 10 December 1992 (70) More Information: Peter Jennings (06) 277 4145

Parliament House, Canberra, AC T 2600 Telephone (06) 277 4145 Facsimile (06) 277 2143 After Hours Telephone: (08) 339 5152 or (06) 286 1504 C O M M O N W E

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