Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Afghanistan war costs top $300m

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visit troops in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010. Photo / Maggie Tait
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key visit troops in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010. Photo / Maggie Tait

The war in Afghanistan has cost the New Zealand taxpayer about $300 million, the Defence Force says, as our final contingent of troops prepares to withdraw later this month.

It has taken more than 10 years and cost 10 Kiwi lives, but the Defence Force (NZDF) says huge gains have been made as a result of the work done by the 3500 New Zealand troops who have served there, particularly in the impoverished Bamiyan Province where the majority have been based.

The primary role of New Zealand's forces has been providing security in Bamiyan through the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), and NZDF said more than $80m will have been spent on development by the end of this financial year.

During the Taliban era there were just 12 schools operating in Bamiyan, now there are more than 350, according to the NZDF.

Hospital bed numbers in the province have more than doubled since 2004, and health clinics have been established in all seven of Bamiyan's districts, thanks partly to New Zealand funding.

The number of students graduating from Bamiyan University has skyrocketed, and the number of women attending has gone from three in 2005 to 247 last year.

The question is whether the New Zealand's legacy in Bamiyan will endure after they go home.

The last contingent of New Zealanders, Crib 21, have focused on building the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces, who will be responsible for keeping the peace from next month.

Local police officers have also received training and resourcing from New Zealand police, who deployed a total of 53 staff to Afghanistan between 2005 and December last year.

A police statement said they had helped to train more than 3000 local police while they worked in "Operation Highland", and there was estimated to be around 800 Afghan National Police officers in the province at the end of last year.

A huge stocktaking exercise is now underway at Kiwi Base in Bamiyan to establish what needs to be brought back to New Zealand and which items can be gifted to the Afghan people.

NZDF said it would continue to commit to Afghanistan with a further 27 personnel deployed there, predominantly in Kabul.

They will include personnel attached to the International Security Assistance Force, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UK-led Afghan National Army Officer Training Academy.

SOME OF NEW ZEALAND'S ACHIEVEMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN


- More than 3000 Afghan police have received training

- 950 students have graduated from Bamiyan University

- An agriculture support programme has seen 600 hectares of Bamiyan rangelands re-seeded

- An additional 30,000 tonnes of potatoes were harvested in Bamiyan last year

- New Zealanders have helped to build what will be the largest solar energy system in Afghanistan

- APNZ

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