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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2218


Senator GARETH EVANS —Mr President, I have a supplementary answer to a question asked of me in my capacity as Acting Foreign Minister by Senator Missen on 13 May in relation to Ethiopian relief camps. I seek leave to incorporate the supplementary answer in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows-

The Government understands that the United Nations Co-ordinator in Ethiopia, Mr Jansson, met Chairman Mengistu on 7 may to express the deep concern of the United Nations and donor countries represented in Addis Ababa about the forced evacuation of the relief feeding centre at Ibnat. Further, Heads of Mission of donor countries, including the Australian Charge d'Affairs met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Goshu Wolde, on 17 May. They expressed their concern over both the Ibnat incident and the more general problems hampering the relief effort such as a lack of transport and the need to improve distribution of relief supplies in the north of Ethiopia.

Both Chairman Mengistu and Foreign Minister Wolde, gave assurances that actions like that at Ibnat would not be allowed to re-occur and that adequate preparation, consultation and non-use of force would be used in implementing the Ethiopian Government's policy on disbanding relief centres. They also undertook to establish new food distribution points in Eritrea and Tigre provinces, through the auspices of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Government understands that most of those forced to leave Ibnat have now returned and, with the help of extra relief supplies being co-ordinated by the UN together with the Ethiopian Government's Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, are being provided with food and shelter. Urgent priority is being given to the task of improving health and sanitary conditions at Ibnat.