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Australia joins world appeal for food aid to Sudan



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M ED IA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

AA40 25 May 1998

AUSTRALIA JOINS WORLD APPEAL FOR FOOD AID TO SUDAN

I am pleased to announce that Australia will join an international effort to help prevent a major disaster in Sudan by providing $1 million for famine and drought relief activities.

The current situation in southern Sudan is extremely serious with hundreds of thousands of people threatened with famine. However, it is hoped that the crisis may be contained with timely and coordinated action from the international community.

The international emergency appeal, launched by the World Food Programme (WFP) to help combat the current crisis, hopes to help feed the people of Sudan over the next four months.

Australia has responded quickly with a contribution of $680,000 to the WFP for emergency food aid.

In addition, Australia will also provide $320,000 to Community Aid Abroad for an emergency seed distribution project in the southern Sudan state of Bahr El Ghazal.

Distribution of the WFP food at the same time as the seeds is critical to avoid the problem of people eating the seeds out of desperation. It is also crucial for the seeds to be planted before the onset of Sudan’s wet season.

Sudan has consistently been one of the largest recipients of Australian humanitarian relief over last decade. This year, Australia has already provided $2 million for food aid and a further $3 million for humanitarian assistance through Australian nonĀ­ government organisations and international agencies.

Fifteen years of civil war have dealt a serious blow to Sudan’s economy and damaged much of the country’s infrastructure. Southern Sudan, in particular, is subject to perennial food shortages, resulting from the harsh climate and the effects of the longĀ­ term war.

Severe malnutrition is already evident in the states of Bahr El Ghazal, Western Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria.

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Minister’s office) 02 6277 7500/0411 414 695 Carol Haffke (AusAID) 02 6206 4966/0417 683 767