Australia announces Pacific drought relief package

7:13 pm on 7 November 2015

Australia's foreign minister has announced financial assistance to Pacific countries struggling with drought brought on by this year's severe El Niño.

Julie Bishop today toured areas of Papua New Guinea's Highlands with foreign minister Rimbink Pato.

The PNG government estimates a million people in the Highlands are in a state of distress as a result of months of severe drought and frosts, which has killed crops and dried up water supplies.

Ms Bishop says Australia will provide a 3.5 million US dollar assistance package to PNG to determine water and sanitation needs, support vulnerable groups, and support the National Disaster Centre.

Australia will also provide mapping of the impact of the drought on water, vegetation and crops, as well as seeds for drought-resistant crops to improve food security.

Ms Bishop says 2.8 million dollars will also be provided to NGOs for response efforts in the broader Pacific, which is also struggling with what is forecast to be the worst El Niño in decades.

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