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Asian tsunami: Challenge after Jakarta summit

The Asian tsunami: The challenge after the Jakarta summit

As governments from the world’s richest countries meet to pledge their support for relief and reconstruction in the wake of the tsunami, Oxfam New Zealand welcomes the Government's newly-announced plan to allocate an extra $20 million per year for three to five years for the disaster.

Over the past two weeks in New Zealand, as in other countries, there has been an outpouring of public support and solidarity for the millions of people whose lives have been affected. But the response is not just about the generosity of members of the public, it is also about the policies and actions of governments.

Oxfam’s briefing paper, The Asian Tsunami: The challenge after the Jakarta summit recommends priorities for governments. The paper sets out key challenges in delivering on promises of aid and providing debt cancellation as well as a moratorium on debt servicing and providing better access for exports from the tsunami-affected countries.

For the New Zealand government, the key challenge is to use this opportunity to take a fresh look at its thinking on aid levels. As the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last week, Africa suffers a tsunami every day.

Oxfam New Zealand Executive Director Barry Coates said: “There is a danger that the focus on this natural disaster has diverted attention away from the other 14 humanitarian crises around the world. In Darfur, in western Sudan, over a million people are still struggling to survive in makeshift refugee camps. We must not forget their plight.

“The Government’s response to this disaster has so far been welcome, and additional resources are likely to be committed by Cabinet next week. The next step must be a substantial increase in aid funding to bring New Zealand into line with other OECD member countries. The Government can take its cue from the New Zealand public, whose astounding generosity over the past couple of weeks has shown once and for all that they do care very deeply about the suffering of people overseas."

Notes to editors A target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) has been agreed by all OECD countries, including New Zealand. With the additional $20m per annum, New Zealand's aid budget increases from about 0.24% of national income to around 0.26%. At 0.24% of GNI, New Zealand’s aid budget ranks 16th out of the 22 countries of the OECD. And it is one of the few countries that have not yet set a timetable for achieving the goal of 0.7%. NZ aid may reach $100 million according to a report by the Dominion Post today: http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3152288a10,00.html The full report OI Briefing Note: The Asian Tsunami - The Challenge after the Jakarta Summit 7 January 2005 (PDF file) is available on the web: http://www.oxfam.org.nz

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