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Australia’s $1b tsunami aid package forgets Acheh


What about Aceh? Australia’s $1 billion tsunami aid package forgets the tsunami devastated province?

AID/WATCH’s concerns that the strategic relationship between Australia and Indonesia would overpower any consideration for the people of Aceh was born out today at the completion of the inaugural meeting between the 2 countries.

In the first meeting of the Australia-Indonesian joint partnership just $50 million of the $1 billion aid package was dedicated to tsunami devastated Aceh.

The remainder has gone to strategic projects that fit the objectives of Australian aid announced in the 2004 budget statement from the Foreign Minister 7 months before the tsunami occurred.

Projects announced at the completion of the meeting today were:

•$ 5 million for Government elections in Indonesia not Aceh

•$2 million to combat terrorism and anti money laundering not Aceh
•$10 million disaster management response Not Aceh
•$50 million, five year program for economic, financial and public sector management in Indonesia not Aceh

Just $10 million a year for 5 years, of the promised $1 Billion was dedicated specifically for Aceh and meetings of the joint partnership were not designated to occur again until 2006.

“This is a clear case of the Australian Government forgetting about the people of Aceh” said Tim O’Connor from AID/WATCH. “The Howard government received massive political mileage out of the tsunami relief package and as soon as it is off the front pages they have acted exactly as we predicted. Australian taxpayers have been played for fools and the people of Aceh will be the ones who continue to suffer.”

Approaching 3 months since the tsunami, AID/WATCH has been critical of the length of time it has taken to begin the process of organising the rebuilding of Aceh and has continually raised concerns about the promotion of the ‘national interest’ objectives of the Australian aid programme outweighing the secondary aims of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.


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