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Marshall Islands declares state of disaster

Friday May 10, 2013 - 18:17 EST
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Local forecasters don't foresee any rainfall in Marshall Islands until September. - ABC

Marshall Islands has declared a state of disaster in the island nation's north due to prolonged drought.

The decision was made this week after United Nations assessment teams found approximately 10,000 people have so far been affected.

They say there is not enough clean drinking water, food gardens are dying from lack of water, and there are concerns about the spread of disease and illness.

Marshall Islands' Foreign Minister, Phillip Muller, told Radio Australia's program after more than three months of very little rain, relief from the drought is not expected until later this year.

"The latest we've heard from the forecasters is that this drought will continue into probably September or even later than that," he said.

Mr Muller says a US government team is working with the UN assessors on the ground evaluating the priorities for assistance.

"They have been mobilised and taken to the outer islands to see for themselves what is the situation," he said.

"But our own disaster people have made an assessment and it's quite dire at this time."

Mr Muller says problems with water supplies caused by salt intrusion from rising sea levels have been exacerbated by the drought, and its effects will be felt for some time to come.

"We're talking about Marshall Islands needing assistance for quite a while yet," he said.

"It look like all the forecasts do not seem to see any rain in the near future."


© ABC 2013

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