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Andhra Pradesh And Tamil Nadu (Cyclone Disaster)

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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asked the Minister for Overseas Development what information she has on speedy use of the United Nations emergency machinery for natural disasters in the case of the 10,000 casualties sustained because of the cyclone in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; what long-term rehabilitation plans are being arranged with United Kingdom participation; and if she will make a statement.

The House will be saddened to learn that latest estimates put the number of deaths in the wake of the cyclones at over 20,000. Most of the casualties are in Andhra Pradesh State where the cyclone struck on 19th November.The United Nations Agencies concerned, principally the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator, have kept in close touch with the situation throughout and a formal offer of United Nations assistance was made by the Secretary General on 21st November. The Government of India announced on 22nd November that they welcomed all voluntary assistance from the international community. We understand that the Indian Government have specifically requested assistance from the United Nations Children's Fund which has ongoing programmes in India.On 23rd November the UNICEF Executive Director authorised an emergency contribution of ․200,000 additional to its current India programme.As I told the House on Friday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has spoken to the Indian Prime Minister and offered any help we can give. An RAF Hercules chartered by my Ministry left RAF Lyneham this morning carrying drugs provided by my disaster unit and three vehicles, groundsheets and blankets provided by the voluntary societies. In addition our High Commissioner in Delhi has made a cash contribution of £25,000 to the Indian authorities for urgent relief, and has been authorised to offer sums totalling £50,000 as an immediate contribution to the relief efforts of the three States most concerned.Subject to parliamentary approval, I propose to make grants-in-aid of £250,000 to the British Red Cross for assistance in co-operation with the Indian Red Cross and £25,000 to UNICEF for immediate aid. Parliamentary approval will be sought in supplementary estimates to the Overseas Aid Class II 8 Vote. Pending that approval the necessary expenditure will be met by a repayable advance from the Contingencies Fund.These are responses to meet initial needs, but it is clear that there will have to be a massive rehabilitation exercise. We hope the international community will respond generously. The British Government will offer all the help we can both through our bilateral aid programme and through multilateral channels.