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Australian aid for drought-hit Marshall Islands

Monday May 6, 2013 - 16:08 EST
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An estimated 5,000 people in the northern atolls are experiencing severe drought conditions with an additional 11,000 people affected by continued dry weather and loss of crops. - ABC

The Australian Government has announced it will provide $US100,000 for the emergency supply of desalination units in Marshall Islands as the country struggles with an ongoing severe drought.

The Marshallese Government is carrying out an assessment to determine the drought's impact but already agricultural capacity has been severely reduced.

Authorities declared a state of emergency in April followed by a disaster status.

An estimated 5,000 people in the northern atolls are experiencing severe drought conditions with an additional 11,000 people affected by continued dry weather and loss of crops.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, says the Marshallese Government requested Australia's assistance in order to save lives and protect food supply in the northern atolls.

Drought assessment

Several international relief organisations, including the International Organisation for Migration, are assisting the Marshallese Government in carrying out its assessment.

The International Organisation for Migration's Mission Chief for the Marshall Islands, Ashley Carl, has told Radio Australia's that they have started deploying emergency relief supplies.

"We've sent out some collapsible water jars and actually filled them up with water in Majuro and sent out over 450 of these," he said.

"They'll be going out today together with hygiene kits, which ensure that the populations can maintain their hygiene and sanitation needs to prevent communicable disease that can happen during these severe drought conditions."

Mr Carl says initial reports from the affected communities indicate a dire situation.

"At the moment, it seems that many of them only have one gallon per family per day, and the well water is not drinkable in many of these islands currently," he said.

"Their garden patches may have died and their staple foods, like their bread, fruit and bananas, have also been affected."

Mr Carl says it will take several days for the assessment teams to finish their work.


- ABC

© ABC 2013

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