17 Nov 2009

Damaging floods last January in Fiji prompt US to lead disaster management exercise

2:30 pm on 17 November 2009

The United States Ambassador to Fiji says a four day disaster management exercise has been prompted by the devastating floods which hit the country in January.

The flooding claimed 11 lives and caused tens of millions of dollars damage.

Ambassador Steven McGann says the desktop exercise starting today, brings together local stakeholders and officials from various US agencies, including the military's Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance.

Other international aid donors are also involved and Mr McGann says they will be striving to develop a co-ordinated plan for disaster management in Fiji.

"I should also say that disaster relief and recovery efforts have always been at the top of the United States priorities. In the past two months alone, we have responded to natural disasters in the Asia Pacific region with over 35 million US dollars in comprehensive assistance in disaster relief, recovery and reconstruction."

Mr McGann says US humanitarian assistance is not tied in any way to political differences Washington may have with the affected country.

The US Government has on a number of occasions condemned the actions of the Fiji interim regime.