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Thursday, January 14

$1 million in aid for Haiti, help for New Zealanders


New Zealand is making an immediate $1 million contribution to international relief efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said today.

Mr McCully said the government was also trying to organise consular assistance for New Zealanders in Haiti.

"As the enormity of this disaster emerges, the international community is rapidly mobilising to assist the people of Haiti," Mr McCully said.

"Saving lives and assisting survivors are obviously the immediate priorities. New Zealand's contribution will therefore be channelled through international relief agencies, such as the International Red Cross and various United Nations agencies, who are already in Haiti and have the ability to respond effectively to a such a disaster.

"As fuller assessments of the damage and the type of assistance required emerge, New Zealand may look at further contributions."

Mr McCully said the government was also putting plans in place to provide consular assistance to New Zealanders in Haiti.

"We are looking at sending someone to the United States to be ready to go to Haiti when conditions allow. However Haiti's airport is currently closed, and there is no indication when it will re-open.

"In the meantime we are doing all we can to assist the Sanson-Rejouis family. Two family members are confirmed alive and but two remain trapped inside the Karibe Hotel. Two other missing New Zealanders have been found -- one in Haiti and one elsewhere.

"We are continuing to work with our consular partners (US, Canada, Australia, France, UK) and international organisations (UN, Red Cross) on the ground in Haiti to see what immediate assistance they can provide," Mr McCully said.

New Zealanders with concerns about the welfare of family in Haiti should telephone the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 439-8000.