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Australia increases drought assistance to Marshall islands

Thursday June 13, 2013 - 13:56 EST
Audience submitted image
More than 5,000 people in the north of Marshall Islands have limited access to clean and safe drinking water, proper sanitation and nutritious food. - Audience submitted

Australia is increasing emergency drought assistance to the Marshall Islands, in the face of a dire food and water shortage.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Senator Matt Thistlethwaite, has told Radio Australia's the Australian Government has responded to a second request for assistance from the Marshallese Government.

"We've provided an extra $385,000 worth of funding for urgent air lifts of emergency food and water and repairs to some of the desalination plants on those atolls," he said.

"There's a real anxiety amongst the population about their ability to remain sustainable and continue their long-lasting relationship with their homeland."

The only water available for drinking, cooking and hygiene is being made by reverse osmosis water purifying machines flown into the northern atolls by aid groups.

"On some of those atolls, supplies of adequate drinking water have actually run out, and they're relying on air lifts of drinking water, and getting the solar panel reverse osmosis units up and running," Senator Thistlethwaite said.

Senator Thistlethwaite says the Marshallese Government has announced a full commission to tour some of the islands to make an assessment of the severity of the drought and the anxiety amongst the commission.

"We'll await the findings of that commission and continue to monitor the situation and work with international aid agencies, such as UNICEF, and the Marshall Islands Government, to ensure that we're doing all we can to maintain the sustainability and liveability of those atolls," he said.


© ABC 2013

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