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New Zealand to provide further help to Sri Lanka

New Zealand to provide further help to Sri Lanka

New Zealand is promising a minimum of NZ$1.5 million over the next three financial years (2003/04 to 2005/06) to support reconstruction and peace in Sri Lanka, Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

This pledge will be formally submitted at the Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka, underway in Tokyo, and is on top of the $140,000 announced recently for the UN-led demining programme and other aid.

Total costs of reconstruction in the war-torn North and East of Sri Lanka have been provisionally estimated at US$2.8 billion.

"New Zealand recognises the immense human and financial needs associated with reconstruction," Marian Hobbs said. "Education, health, clean water, rebuilding the livelihoods of communities affected by the conflict -- all need substantial help. We are willing to play our part."

The funding will be channelled through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

"We will be supporting programmes which benefit all ethnic groups in areas held both by the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, " Marian Hobbs said.

"New Zealand has developed a good relationship with Sri Lanka over the past 50 years and we also have a vibrant Sri Lankan community here concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka."

The Tokyo conference is being co-chaired by Japan and Norway who have been particularly active in helping to facilitate the peace process. A large number of bilateral and multilateral donors and other interested parties are attending the conference.

NZAID, New Zealand’s aid agency, provides around $700,000 per year to Sri Lanka. This includes demining, student scholarships, voluntary agencies and other programmes. Total New Zealand aid to Sri Lanka should increase to over $1.25 million in 2003/04.

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