Million Dollar Relief Package For Africa Great Lakes

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand is to provide a package of emergency relief assistance to the Great Lakes region of Africa worth over one million dollars, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Upton announced today.

The New Zealand response comes after further appeals from the United Nations to support the reintegration of up to two million returning refugees in Rwanda, as well as to assist refugees in Eastern Zaire, Burundi and Tanzania.

Refugees in Tanzania, mainly from Burundi and Zaire, have reached 325,000 and are growing at a thousand a day. New Zealand Foreign Affairs officials visited the region last month to assess the situation.

``There is no doubt the humanitarian situation in the Africa Great Lakes region is among the worst the world faces,'' Mr Upton said. ``Every day though lives are being saved by the efforts of relief workers. New Zealanders have given generously to emergency appeals and the Government is continuing to join their response.''

The New Zealand contributions, which will come from the Official Development Assistance programme, will be channelled through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as well as World Vision, Oxfam, Caritas and Save the Children Fund.

UNHCR recently told the Security Council that the relief programme in the Great Lakes was ``among the most complex, difficult and dangerous ever undertaken.''

Projects to be funded with New Zealand money include a house rebuilding programme for returning refugees in Rwanda, refurbishment of primary schools in Zaire and UNHCR's protection and care operations for refugees inside Zaire and in camps in Tanzania.

``We all hope that recent events in Zaire will allow some stability to return to the region. This New Zealand relief package supports the important reintegration and rehabilitation efforts already under way,'' the Minister added.

With this contribution total NZODA assistance to the region since 1994 will reach over $5,300,000.

Other emergency grants announced today include:

$155,000 for crop replanting and food relief schemes run by UNICEF and Caritas in Fiji and Tonga following cyclones earlier this year;
$100,000 to a UNICEF school rehabilitation programme in war-devastated Sierra Leone;
$150,000 for Red Cross health care for women in Afghanistan;
$148,000 for a Christian World Service food relief scheme in drought-stricken eastern Uganda;
$150,000 for an Oxfam project in Sudan to help people feed themselves;
$35,600 for an ADRA project in Thailand which will aid Burmese refugees;
$150,000 for UN and Red Cross disaster preparedness plans, particularly in the flood-prone Mekong Basin countries of South-east Asia.

The funds have become available now that the South Pacific cyclone season has ended.

``In addition to helping our friends in the South Pacific, I am pleased that we have been able to provide a substantial response to emergency needs in other parts of the world.'' Mr Upton said.