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16-09-2002, 04:58 PM

AA 02 053 30 Aug 2002

Emergency Grant for Victims of PNG's Mt Pago Volcano

Australia will provide up to $1 million to assist communities affected by the eruption of Mt Pago in the West New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea.

About 12,000 people are now in temporary camps following evacuation of villages around the base of the volcano.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chris Gallus, says Australia's emergency assistance comes in response to a formal request from the PNG Government.

'Volcanic activity at Mt Pago is continuing, with emissions of volcanic gas and some lava flows,' she said. 'Scientists are not yet able to predict how long the eruption will last or whether the intensity will increase.

'Australian experts are working with international volcano disaster teams assisting PNG authorities to monitor the volcano.'

Mrs Gallus said Australia was funding three disaster coordinators to assess the situation, provide advice to the national and provincial governments and help coordinate the aid effort.

'Their focus is on the provision of relief supplies including shelter, water supply and sanitation,' she said.

The West New Britain Provincial Government had responded promptly and effectively to provide basic services to the evacuated people.

However, its resources were limited and outside assistance was essential.

Mrs Gallus said Australian emergency assistance would be managed by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) in conjunction with PNG authorities.

Media contacts:
Craig Bildstien 02) 6277 4840 or 0407 604437
Jo Elsom 02) 6206 4960 or 0412 804489

Source: By permission of: http://www.ausaid.gov.au

16-09-2002, 04:59 PM

AA 02 043 01 Aug 2002

$1m Grant to fight HIV/AIDS in Asia Pacific

I am pleased to announce Australia will provide over one million dollars to establish the Asia Pacific Leadership Forum on HIV/AIDS and Development, as part of Australia's commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS in the region.

HIV/AIDS represents one of the major development challenges facing the Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Pacific has the largest regional concentration of HIV outside of sub-Saharan Africa. There are now some 7.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in our region, with more than 3,000 new infections in the Asia Pacific every single day.

The Asia Pacific Leadership Forum for HIV/AIDS and Development (APLF) will engender political leadership by enabling decision-makers and leaders in the region to share their experiences in fighting this epidemic. The initiative for the APLF stems from a meeting I convened in Melbourne in October 2001. 31 Ministers from the Region attended the Ministerial Meeting for HIV/AIDS and Development, including eight from ASEAN. This was the first time Ministers from our region gathered specifically to consider the impact of HIV/AIDS on our region and priorities for action.

The APLF will complement work on HIV/AIDS that is already being undertaken in the region by national governments, regional groupings and donors. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of ASEAN, whose leaders have recognised the challenge of HIV/AIDS and who have developed a strong program of regional action.

Australian assistance, through UNAIDS, will fund a key regional institution to conduct shared learning sessions for leaders from government and civil society around the region. Through discussion and exchange of experience, participants will have the chance to grapple with the difficult issues that the epidemic brings to us.

Australia will also provide support for an APLF coordinator in the UNAIDS Regional Office in Bangkok. UNAIDS will be central to the management and coordination of the APLF, and I am pleased to see our long-standing partnership with this key UN body continuing.

The APLF is a regional partnership. Australia looks forward to working with regional partners, other donors and UNAIDS to encourage the political commitment and leadership required in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890
Jo Elsom (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 / 0412 80 4 489

For more information: http://www.ausaid.gov.au

16-09-2002, 05:03 PM

AA 02 009 01 Mar 2002

Australian Assistance Package to the Pacific

I am pleased to announce three significant initiatives to further the development and potential of Pacific Island nations, including those belonging to the Commonwealth.

The first is an $8 million health package to deliver medical services in Pacific Island nations by volunteer Australian doctors and nurses.

This project will run for five years and will involve sending teams of specialists from Australia to offer on-the-job training to local medical staff in the Pacific and assist in the areas of sustainable hospital management and local health system reform.

Pacific Commonwealth countries to receive this assistance include Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

I am also pleased to announce Australia will provide $4 million over 7 years to assist countries in the Pacific vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and climate variability.

The funding will complement other Australian aid activities in areas such as disaster preparedness and regional sea level monitoring and coordinate closely with other donor funded adaptation programs in the Pacific.

Specific activities to receive funding will include vulnerability assessment studies, pilot projects dealing with the impacts of climate variability and change and regional consultations on island adaptation requirements.

Finally, I am pleased to announce Australia has agreed to provide $250,000 to support small states representation at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.

The Australian Government is aware many small nations, including several Commonwealth countries do not have sufficient institutional capacity to further their trade interests at the WTO.

As a result, Australia and several other Commonwealth countries are prepared to offer assistance through the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation which is based in Geneva and has a proven track record in providing advice, information and technical assistance to small states at the WTO.

These three initiatives demonstrate Australia's ongoing commitment to advancing the interests of Pacific Island nations, including those countries that are fellow members of the Commonwealth.

Media contacts:

Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890

Fionna Douglas (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 / 0412 804 489

By permission of: http://www.ausaid.gov.au