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Australian drought effort in Irian Java winds down

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AA59 17 July 1998


I am pleased to announce that as conditions have improved Australia is winding down its drought relief operation in Irian Jaya involving both Australian Defence Force (ADF) and aid personnel.

The operation has successfully provided emergency food relief for up to 90,000 people in the central highlands district of Jayawijaya.

Over 470 metric tonnes of food, medical and other supplies have been transported throughout the region by the ADF using three Black Hawk helicopters and Caribou transport aircraft.

Normal weather patterns have now resumed and sweet potato crops in the District are expected to be harvested soon.

Australian aid for the drought effort will continue in the district following the return of AusAID and ADF personnel and aircraft to Australia. We will provide $250,000 to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation for a technical assessment mission to help rebuild agricultural production in Irian Jaya and two other Indonesian provinces - Nusa Tengarra Timur and Nusa Tengarra Barat.

The mission will design projects to assist drought-affected farmers recover from crop failures and assess the ability of farmers to replace seed stocks and purchase fertilisers and tools.

Australia will also continue to assist in the distribution of food with funds provided to the Mission Aviation Fellowship and United Nations agencies to lease a Bell Helicopter and Twin Otter aircraft for food distribution for a further month.

Australian aid and ADF personnel were sent to Irian Jaya for a short-term intervention in May to supplement the efforts of Indonesia’s disaster response authority SATLAK, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other non-government organisations providing relief to the drought-stricken people of the Jayawijaya District.

In addition to this relief operation in Irian Jaya, the Government has also supported drought relief activities through United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and World Vision Australia. This forms part of Australia’s total $50 million humanitarian response to Indonesia. Media contacts: Innes Willox (Minister’s office) 02 6277 7500/0411 414 695

Lyn Dunlevy (AusAID) 02 6206 4966