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Kiwi to join UNDAC team in United States

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand

5 September 2005 Media Statement

Kiwi to join UNDAC team in United States

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that New Zealand is sending a senior emergency management expert to the United States to help in the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

“Last week I wrote to President Bush offering our sympathy and any assistance that New Zealand could give. We have all been shocked as the full extent of the disaster has unfolded,” Helen Clark said.

John Titmus, an Auckland-based Emergency Management Advisor, is expected to leave shortly to join a four-member United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team that is to operate from a disaster response base in Washington DC.

“This contribution is a quick way for New Zealand to help the people in the Gulf Coast areas devastated by last week’s hurricane, and subsequent flooding.”

The UN team will assist the United States in coordinating the offers of assistance to Katrina survivors that have been made internationally in the past few days.

New Zealand’s Embassy in Washington has formally offered other assistance to the Katrina relief effort. The Government is expecting a response from US emergency authorities in the next few days as they assess their needs and coordinate other offers from overseas.

ENDS

Background information:

- Mr Titmus has been with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management for almost 20 years, is a member of the UNDAC programme that provides emergency managers on call 24/7 to support other countries following major emergencies. He was seconded to Sri Lanka earlier this year following the Boxing Day tsunami. In recent years he has also helped coordinate the response to Cyclone Heta in Niue and been deployed to Papua New Guinea following an earthquake and volcanic eruption. He is expected to work in Washington for two weeks

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