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$30 million humanitarian relief for Indonesian poor.

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I am pleased to announce a new $30 million package of humanitarian assistance to Indonesia.


The centrepiece of the package is the provision of up to 40,000 tonnes of Australian grain to help feed critically malnourished and vulnerable groups in the poorer areas of eastern Indonesia. The grain will be used in support of the United Nations’ World Food Programme’s (WFP) emergency feeding operation which will begin delivering food supplies very soon.


UN assessments indicate that as many as 40 million Indonesians are currently living under chronic marginal circumstances as a result of the combined impact of the worst drought in decades and the fallout from the country’s economic crisis. Up to 8 million people cannot be assured of adequate food supplies through the coming dry season.


Helping to ensure food security for these people is a primary concern of the Australian Government. Contributing grain supplies to the WFP operation is a practical expression of our preparedness to help the most needy, including children and pregnant women.


The Australian Government was instrumental in bringing about the recent World Bank-convened donor coordination meeting on Indonesia, which identified the supply of food and medical supplies as key humanitarian needs.


In addition to food aid, Australia’s contribution to the international relief effort will include:


* emergency medical supplies;

* further assistance for drought relief efforts, supplementary feeding programs for vulnerable groups (such as infants), agricultural rehabilitation and employment generation activities; and

* contribution to a World Bank-coordinated program to assist the Government of Indonesia to mobilise drought relief and employment generation schemes.


This relief package will directly ease the suffering of Indonesia’s most needy. It will be particularly targeted at the rural poor in the eastern islands of the country. The aid will be distributed through international agencies, NGOs and the network of Australian aid project teams in the eastern islands.


This package brings Australia’s total humanitarian assistance to Indonesia in response to the crisis to almost $50 million.


The humanitarian aid is separate from the Australian contribution to the IMF’s economic program loan to Indonesia. As the Prime Minister announced in April, Australia is responding to an IMF request to activate up to US$300 million of the US$1 billion which we pledged to the IMF program for Indonesia in October last year.


Australia has been successful in encouraging the international community, including the IMF, to adopt an approach to the problems of the Indonesian economy which recognises the priority of Indonesia’s humanitarian needs.


Today’s announcement of a $30 million relief package demonstrates that Australia is also committed to practical, on-the-ground assistance to those most in need.



Media contacts:

Innes Willox (Minister’s office) 02 6277 7500 / 0411 414 695

Michelle Hardy (AusAID) 02 6206 4968 / 0417 680 590