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New funding package for response to tsunami

18 January 2005 Media Statement

Govt announces funding package for response to tsunami

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that Cabinet had agreed to New Zealand's offical response to the relief and reconstruction efforts in the region affected by the Boxing Day tsunami reaching $68 million. This figure is inclusive of the $10 million already announced for the relief effort.

Helen Clark said this was New Zealand's largest ever response to an international relief and reconstruction programme.

"This contribution reflects both the magnitude of the disaster and its impact on a number of nations in our region with which we have important bilateral relationships. Our judgement is that as a good neighbour, New Zealand should step forward in times of crisis, as it has from the outset of the relief effort.

"This level of support enables us in particular to make a substantial contribution to the United Nations flash appeal for the afflicted region; to continue to match the generous donations being made by New Zealanders to the appeals for funding; and to target New Zealand aid funding into Aceh/Sumatra," Helen Clark said.

The government response is made up as follows:

- $20 million for United Nations tsunami relief efforts. (A $17 million increase on the original commitment of $3 million.)
- $20 million for NZAID's bilateral programme in Indonesia to enable it to support relief, reconstruction, and development work in Aceh/Sumatra. (This represents an additional $4 million dollars per annum for five years, an increase of close to fifty per cent per annum for the bilateral ODA programme with Indonesia)
- $19 million for dollar-for-dollar matching of public donations. (This is inclusive of the $5 million already allocated)
- $4 million for other contributions which will enable New Zealand to meet specific requests; for example those from the Red Cross and through Commonwealth channels; to provide technical support, for example for disaster prevention initiatives; to part-sponsor the New Zealand Cricket Association's initiative; and other purposes.
- $5 million to cover costs incurred by departments in responding to the tsunami where these cannot be absorbed within baselines. This applies particularly to the disaster identification work being coordinated by the New Zealand Police.

Helen Clark said that New Zealand had been on the ground early with a very substantial relief effort.

"Around 113 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were deployed into the region. They included:

- Two RNZAF C-130 aircraft (with integrated Aero Medical Evacuation (AME) Public Information and Command elements) providing tactical airlift working in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Combined/Joint Task Force – 629 (CJTF-629) based in Medan, Sumatra;
- Four air loading teams (ALT) situated at Halim Air Base, Jakarta;
- One B-757 aircraft providing strategic airlift in conjunction with the ADF Joint Movements Group;
- One light medical team (LMT) working jointly with an ADF Health Support Company (HSC) currently based at Banda Aceh;
- NZDF communications specialists situated in Phuket, Medan and Jakarta;
- Six NZDF staff officers attached to Headquarters, CJTF-629 at Medan.

"The New Zealand Police have also made a huge contribution, with 25 police and civilian staff deployed into the international Disaster Victim Identification operation in Phuket, Thailand. This has been particularly difficult and arduous work.

"Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives have done outstanding consular and other work in both New Zealand and the affected countries. NZAID, New Zealand's official aid and development agency, has been instrumental in pulling together the government's response package.

"Overall this has been a huge whole-of-government operation, bringing together the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NZ Defence Force, Police, Customs, NZAID, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Health, Victim Support, ACC, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. There has been a great deal of liaison with New Zealand families and returning New Zealanders."

Helen Clark said that Cabinet also agreed that the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management should contract specialists to review existing information about the risk of tsunamis to New Zealand and to report on issues which need to be addressed.

A report is expected by the end of September this year, at an estimated cost of $200,000.

The government will also be informed by officials attending this week's UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan.

Helen Clark said that the Boxing Day tsunami had spurred an unprecedented international response from the United Nations, governments, non-governmental organisations, and individuals around the world who wanted to help.

"New Zealand has been at the forefront of the relief effort. Today's announcement enables our country to make an ongoing contribution to work of vital importance to shattered communities in the affected region," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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