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$272.34 million released for disaster relief outside Hong Kong in 2007-08

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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) released $272.34 million from the Disaster Relief Fund to provide immediate relief to people in distress outside Hong Kong in the year ending March 31, 2008.

In response to appeals made by governments and international relief organisations, grants were disbursed for the early relief of victims in places outside Hong Kong hard-hit by major disasters.

For 2007-08, assistance was given through 22 relief projects operated by seven relief organisations to help needy victims tide over the calamities that had befallen them. The seven relief organisations were The Association of Chinese Evangelical Ministry Limited, Cedar Fund, Hong Kong Red Cross, Mercy Corps Limited, Oxfam Hong Kong, The Salvation Army and World Vision Hong Kong. The Government also made three grants totalling $210 million to three provincial/municipal governments to undertake relief projects for snowstorm victims on the Mainland.

Details of the relief projects are as follows:

- In June 2007, two grants totalling $4 million were approved for the relief of earthquake victims in Yunnan and three grants totalling $9.5 million were approved for the relief of flood victims in Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi.

- In July 2007, three grants totalling $9.12 million were made for the relief of flood victims in Anhui, Chongqing and Sichuan. A grant of $0.88 million was also approved for the relief of flood victims in Pakistan.

- In August and September 2007, three grants totalling $6.26 million were approved for the relief of flood victims in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. One grant of $1.5 million was made for the relief of earthquake victims in Peru.

- In November and December 2007, two grants totalling $3.65 million were made for the relief of cyclone victims in Bangladesh.

- In February 2008, 10 grants totalling $237.43 million were made for the relief of snowstorm victims on the Mainland.

Relief organisations receiving grants from the fund are required to submit evaluation reports and audited accounts to the HKSARG on the use of the grants after the completion of the relief projects.

The Disaster Relief Fund, administered by the Administration Wing under the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office, provides an effective channel for the Government to respond swiftly to international appeals for humanitarian aid for the relief of disasters that occur outside Hong Kong.

The fund is operated from capital of $50 million provided by the HKSARG when the fund was established. The Government tops up the fund at the beginning of each financial year and applies to the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council for additional funding as necessary during the financial year, depending on calls for relief and the size of the fund balance and commitments.

The Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee is responsible for advising the Government on policy and practices regarding the disbursement of funds for disaster relief, as well as advising on specific amounts to recipients and monitoring the use of grants.

The committee is chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration. Members include Mr Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, Mr Andrew Liao Cheung-sing, Mrs Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, Dr Kwok Ka-ki, Mr Michael Lai Kam-cheung, Mr Irving Koo Yee-yin, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury and the Secretary for Labour and Welfare.