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Oxfam: Aid effort cranks into gear

January 04, 2005

Oxfam: Aid effort cranks into gear

International agency Oxfam continues to fly in supplies and staff in response to the Asia crisis and is now seeing the aid delivery making a real difference to the lives of thousands of people hit by the disaster.

Barry Coates, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director said: "The challenges are immense, but across the affected region we are managing to get aid through. Staff, materials and finance are now in place to help people whose lives have been torn apart by this disaster. Given the scale of the crisis, our teams are having to be increasingly innovative. We are using ferries, a tanker ship and helicopters to get aid to the thousands of people cut off from assistance".

Oxfam NZ have deployed two very experienced New Zealand engineers into the disaster-struck region of Aceh, Indonesia. Dave Neru of Wellington and Les Collins of Queenstown are expected to arrive in the city of Medan today where they will be met by operational staff. They will then proceed to Banda Aceh where it is expected they will immediately join an Oxfam team putting together a water system in the devastated city.

At least NZ$600,000 has so far been raised from the public by Oxfam NZ and a further $56 million by Oxfam internationally. Hundreds of volunteers around the country have come forward to offer their help collecting money. More help is needed.

“The New Zealand government is playing an important role in the relief effort, both through its matching funds for public donations to aid agencies and the mobilisation of planes, helicopters and other equipment,” said Coates. “However more could be done. This disaster provides another reason for New Zealand to increase its annual aid budget. Funding is not only needed for relief, but far more will be needed in future to support reconstruction.

“Support for the worst affected Asian countries should not mean a cut in funding for longer term development priorities. The current level of New Zealand aid is now far below the average for OECD countries. The Prime Minister will shortly make an announcement about the government’s response to the crisis. We hope that it will include a substantial increase in funding, not only for the tsunami relief effort, but for the overall overseas aid budget. “

To donate to Oxfam New Zealand’s EARTHQUAKE TSUNAMI EMERGENCY FUND call 800 400 666 or donate online www.oxfam.org.nz

ENDS

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