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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Now, Jan. 16) - Those made vulnerable by the Nov. 16, 2006 riots in Nukualofa are continuing to receive assistance and benefits thanks to the continuous flow of generous donations made into the Emergency Relief Trust Account.

While funds have been going in to the trust and flowing out again to the victims, the Cabinet Relief Committee said there was still TOP27, 891 [US$13,666] available as of January 12.

From individuals to organizations, donations ranging from TOP100 to TOP20,000 [US$49 to US$9,800] have all contributed to providing relief and easing hardship for those whose lives were drastically affected.

Recent donations have come from the Tonga Communication Corporation (TOP2,000) [US$980], the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (TOP9,800), and the Head of Mission Fund, NZ High Commission (TOP5,000) [US$2,450].

Such donations brought the total in the Westpac Bank of Tonga (WBOT) Trust Account to TOP36,800 [US$18,032] by January 8. It meant the committee was able to distribute an initial financial assistance worth TOP10,400 to 104 identified affected workers on December 22. Each received TOP100 and there are 14 more yet to pick up their share. The Fofo’anga Club also gave gifts of TOP50 each from the club’s own fundraising efforts.

This has left TOP24, 692 in the WBOT account while the Tonga Development Bank account balance has reached TOP3,199 -- bringing the combined total to TOP27,891.

Aid has also come through the Salvation Army in the form of goods such as clothing.

At its sixth meeting, the Relief Committee discussed further ways of distributing aid that would not only provide relief but also encourage and assist affected workers to find employment. There have been suggestions for those affected by 16/11 to apply for funding, and rather than distributing cash, the committee might consider the payment of schools fees, food, payments for utilities and such for these families.

Tonga Now is the website of the Reform Information Office, a unit within the Office of the Minister of Finance. The unit was established to assist the Minister of Finance in disseminating information to the public.

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