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Downer contribution to humanitarian relief effort for Iraq obscene.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P.

MEDIA RELEASE

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

DOWNER CONTRIBUTION TO HUMANITARIAN RELIEF EFFORT FOR IRAQ OBSCENE

For a country that is a present only one of three states planning to deploy combat troops against Iraq within the next month, the Howard Government’s decision to allocate US $5 million to the massive humanitarian cost that will arise from such a war is simply obscene.

The UN has calculated that a war in Iraq would result in:

• 100,000 civilians requiring immediate emergency assistance;

• Between 4.2 and 7.2 million internally displaced persons; and

• Between 900,000 and 1.4 million refugees.

Furthermore, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has released two donor alerts Iraq already - one in early December last year and the other in mid-February. These donor alerts are to cover the immediate upfront costs of deploying food, shelter, medical assistance and other emergency relief in the initial stages of a war alone.

I’m advised that the total request for this initial emergency fund is approximately AUD $300 million.

So the Howard Government, as one of only three signed up “military” members of the “Coalition of the Willing,” has decided to contribute less than 3% of the UN’s initial emergency humanitarian fund for Iraq.

The Howard Government seems to be an enthusiastic contributor to the war - but a non-enthusiastic contributor to the peace.

Ends 19 February 2003

Further information: Kevin Rudd, MP 0418 796 931 or Alister Jordan 0417 605 823