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Govt. Tsunami Funding Package Positively Received

Tuesday 18 January 2005
Press release # 5

Govt. Tsunami Funding Package Positively Received

The government’s announcement of the revised funding package for countries devastated by the Asian tsunami has been positively received by Caritas, but the agency urges people not to become complacent about the disaster.

“The additional $58 million pledged today, together with the $10 million already given, is a great boost for the relief and recovery efforts; but in order for aid packages to equate to success on the ground, many other issues need to be addressed,” says Caritas Director Mike Smith.

Of particular concern is the Indonesian province of Aceh, which has had restricted access to foreigners and journalists since marital law was imposed in 2003. The region which has suffered most from the devastating waves, has opened up to allow access to humanitarian agencies but reports of military interference and the possibility of the withdrawal of international assistance by March have caused concern.

“The best aid packages in the world are not going to be nearly as effective in an environment of mistrust and conflict. The wider political issues of Aceh also need to be addressed and we urge the New Zealand government to facilitate communication with the Indonesian government to bring peace to Aceh.

Caritas has raised close to $1 million, thanks to the generous support from individuals and Catholic parishes around the country who have held special collections for people affected by the tsunami.

The money raised will be used to support the work of Caritas partners in Sri Lanka and the Indonesian province of Aceh, where they are involved in food and water distribution, providing shelter and supplying medicine and healthcare to the thousands of people whose homes and livelihoods were swept away by the devastating floods. The next phase of the operation will be rehabilitation including the rebuilding of homes and trauma counselling.

Smith says that the long-term commitment by the government in today’s package is heartening. “The rebuilding of the affected regions will take many years and the government seems to be aware of this. The generosity and support shown by New Zealanders towards those affected by the tsunami shows that as a nation New Zealand is interested in assisting those in need. I hope this will be the start of the New Zealand government contributing more towards aid and development, as our current contribution per capita is one of the lowest in the OECD.”

Donations to the Caritas Asia Tsunami Appeal can be sent to Caritas, PO Box 12 193, Wellington, For credit card donations please call 0800 22 10 22, or visit our website www.caritas.org.nz or to make a $20 phone donation via your telephone account call 0900 4 11 11.

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