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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1282


Senator JONES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. With reference to the serious situation in Sudan, where reports indicate that one million children may starve, I note that the new Government has summoned envoys from 40 countries to plead for international help to feed the 22 million population. Was Australia one of those 40 countries? In view of the fact that food reserves from a poor 1984 harvest are likely to run out in Sudan by July this year, will the Government give urgent consideration to providing aid?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I am advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the Australian Government was not one of the 40 countries whose envoys were summoned by the new Government of Sudan. This financial year the Government is providing $1.8m in food aid, through the World Food Program, as emergency relief aid for the Sudan. That shipment is due to arrive in the Sudan in early June. Naturally, the Australian Government is concerned to help alleviate the suffering and hardship being borne by famine victims and refugees in the Sudan. We are committed to playing our part in providing urgent relief to ameliorate the present need in African countries suffering severe food shortages, including Sudan. I am further advised, in a later briefing note, that the Minister for Foreign Affairs has today approved an accountable cash grant of $500,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for its emergency fund for refugees in the Sudan.