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Monday, April 30, 2007

FOI delivers: Katrina victims don't receive

This story in yesterday's Washington Post "Most Katrina aid from overseas went unclaimed" is unlikely to provoke much joy, given the continuing misery of those in New Orleans still suffering the effects of the cyclone in September 2005.

The report, based on documents obtained under Freedom of Information by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), says that most of the $854million offered by governments around the world, went uncollected by the US Government, while red tape also delayed take up and use of the money. Some governments will not be amused by the response to their offer of assistance, or by the publication of the detailed correspondence between them and US authorities.

In the International Relief Matrix Spreadsheet prepared by CREW on the basis of the documents released, Australia's $10million cash contribution to the Red Cross was received and presumably utilised to good effect. But the entry suggests that we mightn't have delivered everything promised: "money accepted 9/5; other assistance delayed - Aussie ministers pulled back to money and emergency management personnel".

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