Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister Helen Clark today announced that $1.5 million has been allocated to international organisations responding to natural disasters through NZAID (New Zealand's international aid and development agency).
"As a concerned member of the international community it is important that New Zealand supports bodies and agencies that respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian assistance to those in need," Helen Clark said.
"Today's announcement will see $1 million contributed to the World Food Programme's (WFP) appeal in the Horn of Africa, and $500,000 will be allocated to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund operated by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (The Federation).
"The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a severe drought and at least seventeen million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti currently require humanitarian assistance. The situation is compounded by high food and oil prices and urgent funding is required to meet the immediate needs of people facing hunger and malnutrition.
"The seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated, with 6.4 million people in Ethiopia alone needing emergency food relief, and millions more facing extreme distress. New Zealand's contribution to WFP will help efforts to maintain a minimum level of food rations for those who can least afford to go without.
"The funding announced for the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund will go towards resources already used by the Federation to meet the humanitarian needs of people in India and Nepal affected by the recent flooding of the Koshi River. In the Bahir province of India 300,000 homes have been destroyed by the flooding and in Nepal 70,000 people have been displaced.
"The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund is a pool of funding that ensures immediate financial assistance is available to the Federation to respond to humanitarian emergencies.
"Responding to humanitarian need is one of New Zealand's obligations as a good international citizen. It is a vital aspect of NZAID's role and everyday work," Helen Clark said.