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Wednesday, December 9

NZ supporting UN assistance for displaced Tamils

New Zealand is contributing $1million to United Nations agencies working to resettle Tamils forced from their homes by the recent civil war in Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

"It is estimated that more than 140,000 Tamil people have now returned home, or been released from camps for internally displaced people, and there is now an urgent need to ensure they can access basic services," Mr McCully said.

"New Zealand's support will be split between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). It will be used to help provide healthcare to mothers and babies, and to make sure communities have clean drinking water and sanitation facilities."

Mr McCully's announcement follows his meeting at Parliament today with the visiting executive director of UNFPA, Ms Thorya Obaid.

As well as discussing the situation in Sri Lanka, Mr McCully said the talks had focused on the ongoing United Nations reform process, including the need for UN programmes to be more effective on the ground, and to ensure that donor support, especially humanitarian assistance, got to where it was most needed.