U.S. CONTRIBUTION TO TONGA’S CYCLONE WAKA NEEDS

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EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Suva, Fiji Islands

Press Release January 16, 2002

U.S. Embassy Charge d’ Affaires, a.i. Ron McMullen presented a check for US$ 25,000 to Tonga Prime Minter ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata Tuesday to alleviate the recent devastating effects of Cyclone Waka on the northern Tongan area Vava’u.

The funds will be used to augment the resources of the Kingdom in helping those affected by the cyclone, concentrating particularly on replacing the foodstuffs destroyed by the disaster.

Cyclone Waka was the worst cyclone to hit the Kingdom of Tonga since 1961, according to the Prime Minister. A total of 12,000 Tongans were directly affected.

Fourteen U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Tonga will be assisting the local communities in the rebuilding effort.

The money will be administered through a disaster relief fund provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr. McMullen noted, "We are deeply concerned about the severe effects of Cyclone Waka. We hope this modest assistance will be useful in your efforts to alleviate the needs of the affected families."

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