66/99 5 November 1999
Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, today made the following statement:
"We are deeply concerned for the people of Orissa. Our main priority is to get assistance to those in need as soon as possible. The Indian Government has responded very quickly and decisively. We have immediately set aside £1 million to respond to requests for assistance from non-governmental organisations. We have already funded the proposals that we have received."
The Department for International Development (DFID) will support aid agencies with an established presence and track record in the region who can indicate that they have assessed needs and have the capacity to respond immediately and effectively.
So far DFID has contributed to Christian Aid (£180,000) and CARE (£150,000) to provide emergency shelter and clothing for approximately 40,000 families. Further responses will be made once assessments are completed and specific requests are received.
Humanitarian experts from DFID will leave the UK on Sunday for Orissa. They will gather information, make contact with all concerned agencies, and make a full assessment of the situation, during their two week mission.
DFID has been in close contact with UK based non-governmental organisations and with the Disasters Emergency Committee. It is also working closely with DFID's office in India and other international agencies.
Notes to Editors:
1. Orissa State was hit by a powerful cyclone on Friday 29 October, this is the second cyclone in the past two weeks. Consolidated estimates of damage are not yet available. Preliminary information released by the Indian Government indicates that 1,977 villages in ten districts are severely damaged. Approximately ten million people are affected including some 2 million people made homeless.
2. Problems accessing the disaster area have delayed formal assessments. Early reports indicate widespread physical devastation. A large number of homes have been destroyed. Basic services such as power, water, sanitation, health and communications have been severely disrupted in all locations. Some key roads and bridges have been destroyed. This will hamper the relief effort.
3. After cyclone warnings the Indian Government moved several thousand people into cyclone shelters. Some essential supplies were prep-positioned in the region. The Government of India has responded positively and with customary speed to this disaster. Its leadership, committment and decisive action has been instrumental in shaping the overall disaster response effort.
4. The Indian Government has provided £50 million in emergency funds. This is in addition to the £40 million allocated following the cyclone that hit the state two weeks ago. The Indian military has been mobilised: 10,000 soldiers are already in the disaster area and further troops including logisticians, engineers and medical teams have been deployed to the region.
5. DFID has an established programme of assistance in Orissa, centred around public sector and fiscal reform, education and health.
6. For further information about DFID, please contact the press office on 0171 917 0600 or visit our website: www.dfid.gov.uk
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