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Monday, 4 May 1987
Page: 2210


Senator McINTOSH —I direct my question to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to an official news release of 12 April 1987 announcing that an Australian Government aid team would visit Mozambique to make a first-hand assessment of that country's emergency humanitarian needs. Has the aid team reported to the Minister? If so, can he report the findings to the Senate?


Senator GARETH EVANS —An Australian team visited Mozambique from 13 to 18 April to assess the country's emergency humanitarian needs. The team comprised an officer from the Australian Development Assistance Bureau, a non-government organisations representative and an officer from the Australian High Commission in Zimbabwe. The object of the visit was to assess the situation following the rapid deterioration of economic and social conditions in Mozambique caused by years of drought and recently intensified guerrilla activity, which have led to severe food and other shortages and large scale displacement of people.

The Australian team's interim report confirms the seriousness and complexity of the deteriorating emergency situation in Mozambique. In late February a United Nations mission estimated the number of people affected and displaced by fighting and drought at 3,500,000. Current estimates place the number somewhere in the range of 4,500,000 to 6,800,000-that is to say, up to 50 per cent of the total population. Included in this number are at least one million people who, because of the security position, are virtually in- accessible to relief effort. A report to the Minister detailing possible options for further Australian assistance to Mozambique is currently in preparation. The estimated cereal food aid requirement for the 12 months commencing in May 1987 is 673,800 tonnes, of which about 410,000 tonnes have now been covered by donor pledges. In addition, there remain major uncovered requirements for non-grain foods-for example, milk products and edible oil-and basic incentive consumer goods such as clothing, blankets, shoes, soap and salt.

Australia is already providing food aid in the form of 4,700 tonnes of rice and 19,280 tonnes of maize valued at more than $5m. The maize is obtained from Zimbabwe through a swap for Australian wheat and is channelled through non-government organisations. Australia is also providing cash for relief programs in Africa through international agencies and an Australian NGO, Austcare, totalling more than $2m-$300,000 of which will be applied directly to Mozambique. Mozambican refugees in nearby countries will benefit significantly from allocations of almost $1.5m for other emergency aid in southern Africa. This year, Australia is also providing $400,000 to an NGO rehabilitation rural development project in Inhambane province in Mozambique.