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SUVA, Fiji (February 6, 1998 - Forum/Tohi)---The South Pacific Forum Secretariat has released $US 10,550 from a special disaster fund to assist the Kingdom of Tonga with cyclone recovery efforts.

This follows a formal request from Tonga for assistance in the wake of Cyclone Ron in early January. The cyclone struck the most northern islands of Niuafo’ou and Tafahi, causing widespread damage to buildings and crops.

The Forum Secretariat administers the Regional Natural Disaster Relief Fund which was established a Forum Leaders' meeting in Nauru during July 1976. Contributions to the fund are made by the 16 Forum member states.

The assistance for Tonga follows similar payments in November to the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea following natural disasters in those countries.

Funds are released where there has been a natural disaster in which a state of emergency is declared and an international appeal for assistance is launched.

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