Aid boost to region welcomed, now urgent need to fight famine


Micah Australia, a coalition of churches and faith-based international development agencies, has strongly endorsed the Budget commitment of an additional $1.4 billion over four years in development assistance for the Pacific and South-East Asia, while calling for additional famine relief.

The commitment includes an increase of $900 million to the Pacific, $470 million to South-East Asia and $30 million to Australian NGOs working internationally.

“The government’s decision to invest in a stronger, healthier Asia-Pacific will transform lives,” Micah Executive Director Tim Costello said.

“This will begin addressing the years worth of lost development gains as a result of chronic underfunding.

“The simple fact is, apart from a number of important but temporary increases to aid under the Coalition Government to help our neighbours during the pandemic, Australian aid was stuck in a downward spiral.

“What Minister Wong and the Albanese Government have done is drawn a line in the sand and made it clear that aid to the poorest matters, how we show up in the world matters.

“They’ve arrested the free fall by putting a solid base under our current aid levels, which gives us the ability to now look at really rebuilding this crucial part of the budget in years to come. We welcome this stabilisation.

“By listening to our neighbours and investing in development assistance that will lift communities, build economic resilience and improve infrastructure, we are creating a better future for all. We need to understand that this is an investment not a cost.”

Micah is continuing to push for the Federal Government to spend $150 million on a Famine Prevention Package after its announcement to provide $15 million in September.

The Ukraine conflict has sent shockwaves through the global food system, putting approximately 50 million people at risk of severe hunger and famine.

The funding would be spent on food, water and other lifesaving support to address an unfolding catastrophe in the worst-affected poverty hotspots in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.

Somalia, which has a large diaspora community in Australia, is on the brink of a famine declaration with at least 300,000 people facing starvation or death in coming months.

“Australia can’t avert its gaze while people starve to death in Somalia and dozens of other countries. We are a wealthy nation with robust national finances. The faster we move, the more lives we save. The money is there, it’s just a matter of choice, heart and goodwill.”

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Sofie Wainwright: 0403 920 301