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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Jan. 4) – The New Caledonia government has earmarked 10 million French Pacific Francs (US$113,000) to victims of the Indian Ocean quake that devastated eight countries on December 26.

The French territory's government had earlier placed its financial commitment to two million CFP, but the figure was revised in the light of recent development regarding the magnitude of the natural disaster.

Pro-independence political umbrella FLNKS has also commented late last week, saying in a release that the Indian Ocean tragedy is a reminder of how "relative our difficulties to build our country are, compared to this."

Meanwhile, several NGOs, including the Secours Catholique (Roman Catholic Relief) and the Red Cross say the response from New Caledonia's population has been very good.

"We have received over three million French Pacific Francs (around 30,000 US dollars) from service clubs, private companies and individuals," local Red Cross head Dr Jean-Joseph Floc'h told RFO's Télé-Nouvelle-Calédonie.

The collected funds, he said, will be transferred back to the French Red Cross headquarters in Paris, which will then re-channel them to relief operations as part of the global effort.

Part of these donations in New Caledonia come from New Caledonia's influent Indonesian community, which accounts for an estimated six hundred Indonesian citizens permanently residing in the French Pacific territory.

Another six thousand, now French citizens, are descendents from Indonesians, who came to New Caledonia from the island of Java, as part of a French-driven indentured labor program in the early 1900s.

In French Polynesia, local initiatives, also driven by the local Red Cross, local service clubs and the Catholic Church, have also collected US$10,000, local media report .

January 4, 2005

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