Australia pledges additional $37m

Published November 24, 2005

MUZAFFARABAD, Nov 23: Australian Prime Minister John Howard here on Wednesday assured his country’s full support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts as he announced an additional US$37 million for quake victims.

Mr Howard announced this while visiting quake-stricken Dhanni village, some 50km along the Neelum Valley Road. He played cricket with children living there in a makeshift relief camp for quite some time, besides visiting a field hospital run by a 96-member team.

Appreciating the services being rendered by Australia’s medical team, he said they were boosting the morale of locals.

“I am pleased to announce that Australia will provide a further 50 million (Australian) dollars (US$37 million) for victims of the disastrous October 8 earthquake in Pakistan, to provide relief for the winter and for reconstruction in the longer term,” he told reporters. Australia has already donated US$10.4 million.

One-fifth of the new funds would be used for emergency relief effort and the remaining 40 million (Australian dollars) would go towards reconstruction, Mr Howard said.

Australia has also deployed a 120-strong military medical team to treat survivors at an additional cost of up to 20 million (Australian) dollars, he added.

“In Australia’s fresh assistance which I am announcing today, we will be coordinating with other donors to ensure it addresses the needs of those most affected by the earthquake,” Mr Howard pointed out.

He said he welcomed the outcome of the last week’s donors’ conference in Islamabad.

APP adds: Meanwhile, Australian Red Cross raised nearly 8 million Australian dollars for quake victims, an Australian newspaper reported.

Daily Euroa Gazette quoted the acting head of Australian Red Cross, Dale Cleaver, as saying the organization would be sending more medical aid workers to Pakistan over the next two to three weeks.

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