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By Yehiura Hriehwazi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 8) – Australia has earmarked more than AUS$300,000 (US$230,000) to help thousands of people forced to flee the Manam Island volcano eruptions in Papua New Guinea.

"This latest contribution will help more than 11,000 people affected by the volcano which has spewed ash onto nearby villages, contaminating the water supply and destroying homes," said Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bruce Billson on Friday. "Funding will be directed through non-government aid organizations currently working in PNG and assist in providing safe drinking water, toilets and hygiene training for people now living in care centers on the mainland.

"More than A$210,000 (K529,100) will be channeled through World Vision to provide critical health services for displaced people and A$85,000 (K214,159) to CARE Australia to assist the Provincial Disaster Office manage the relief operations."

This latest contribution follows nearly A$70,000 (K176,366) provided by the Australian Government last December to the Australian Red Cross.

"The Australian government is committed to an effective ongoing aid program in the region and also providing an effective rapid disaster response to help communities in need and stands ready to provide further assistance to PNG should it be requested," Mr Billson said.

In 2004-2005, Australia increased overseas aid funding by nearly 10% to A$2.133 billion (K5.29 billion) and augmented by an estimated A$14 million (K35.27 million) to A$146 million (K367.85 million) our international humanitarian, emergency and refugee programs.

February 9, 2005

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