New Zealand is sending a six-member defense team to the Middle East to support maritime security in the Red Sea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced on Tuesday. The deployment is in response to the Houthi group’s attacks on civilian ships in the Red Sea, which have been ongoing for weeks. The United States and Britain have conducted air strikes against the Houthi group in Yemen, leading to concerns about global shipping disruption and fears of global inflation.
Luxon emphasized that New Zealand’s deployment is part of its longstanding commitment to defending freedom of navigation in the Middle East and other regions. The defense personnel will not enter Yemen or engage in combat, but will contribute to the collective self-defense of ships in accordance with international law.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters clarified that New Zealand’s actions in the Middle East should not be linked to its position on the Israel-Hamas conflict. New Zealand has been advocating for a humanitarian truce and further steps towards a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza.