Severe snowstorms and record low temperatures during the month of February have resulted in loss of life in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Quanghai and in Tibet. According to reports received by my Department, an estimated 48 people have died and over 70,000 have been affected. In some areas over 40 per cent of livestock, the main source of income and food has been lost.
According to the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, disaster relief efforts by Government Departments and local authorities proceeded rapidly and they have delivered clothing, medicine, food and fuel to the population in the worst affected Provinces.
The Chinese Government has indicated it would welcome international assistance for the snow-stricken areas. My Department is currently engaged in discussions with the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs with a view to making a contribution to the relief efforts in the region.
The main target of Government long-term development aid remains sub-Saharan Africa. There are no plans at present to develop Irish Aid health and eduation programmes in Tibet.