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$3.3 million to assist humantarian relief in Iraq

$3.3 million to assist humantarian relief in Iraq

New Zealand is committing $3.3 million in emergency humanitarian relief to address the human cost of war in Iraq, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"The money will be distributed to a number of United Nations agencies and relief organisations active in Iraq," Phil Goff and Marian Hobbs said.

"The United Nations has warned that without immediate assistance from the international community thousands of lives could be lost, and our initial commitment will be aimed at addressing those concerns.

"Key needs will be for emergency shelter, food and medical care in an environment where, according to the UN, hundreds of thousands of people may be displaced, and infrastructure and services destroyed.

"Relief agencies predict that up to 1.4 million people may try to flee Iraq, and that many of those people will require urgent help. Another two million are expected to leave their homes and remain within Iraq, on top of 1.1 million who are already internally displaced.

"To help meet these needs, New Zealand is providing $1 million to the World Food Programme, and half a million dollars each to the Red Cross, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN's children's agency, UNICEF.

"Further sums of $300,000 will go to both the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and to the UN demining agency UNMAS, and $200,000 will be given to selected Non Government Organisations operating within Iraq.

"The allocation of $3.3 million is up front assistance and focuses on emergency relief to save lives.

"In the aftermath of the conflict, New Zealand will have a role to play in areas such as mine clearance and peacekeeping, and on reconstruction and development assistance. This will involve additional financial assistance.

"We will also consider requests for assistance in areas such as medical personnel and air transport for delivering aid supplies."

"International community support for ordinary people in Iraq during and in the aftermath of war will be vital to minimising human suffering and casualties," Phil Goff and Marian Hobbs said.

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