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Australia to provide more humanitarian aid for southern Africa.

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AA 05 80 22 September 2005

** UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 03.00 AM AEST 22/09/05 **

Australia to provide more humanitarian aid for southern Africa

Australia is to provide a further $3 million for humanitarian relief assistance to southern Africa, where an estimated 10 million people are at risk from the triple threat of drought, HIV/AIDS and reduced governance capacity.

Of the contribution, $2.5 million will go to the World Food Programme (WFP) for emergency food aid through its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation for southern Africa.

The remaining $500,000 in assistance will be channelled through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to provide urgent relief and recovery through food security and livestock programs.

The regional crisis is affecting Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Food shortages in Zimbabwe have been exacerbated by the Mugabe Government’s economic mismanagement and human rights abuses. While Australia has suspended development cooperation with Zimbabwe, an exception continues to be made for humanitarian assistance for ordinary Zimbabweans.

A prolonged dry spell has destroyed much of the harvest across the area - a situation compounded by the world’s highest HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rates, increasing numbers of orphans, chronic poverty, and the weakened ability of governments to respond to the crisis.

Australia has allocated the funding following an appeal to the Prime Minister for support for humanitarian assistance programs from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. I was pleased to be able to inform Mr Annan of Australia’s additional contribution when I met with him today.

Following a contribution of $4.5 million announced on 1 July 2005, these latest contributions through WFP and FAO will increase Australia’s total emergency assistance to alleviate food crises in southern Africa to $46.28 million since March 2002.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Mr Downer’s office) 0419 206 890 AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 590

Media releases and speeches are available on AusAID’s website