11 January 2005

Namibians Aid Tsunami Victims

Windhoek — NAMIBIANS have donated an amount of N$66 800 to the tsunami disaster victims through ongoing mobilization from the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) since the catastrophe affected South East Asia about two weeks ago.

The money was deposited into a Bank Windhoek account.

The money will assist the victims of the earthquake that measured nine on the Richter scale and caused tidal waves that swamped and drowned over 150 000 people.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, secretary general of the Namibia Red Cross Razia Kauaria said that this financial contribution was remarkable seeing how quickly funds have been pouring in since the Asian coastline was struck by the tsunami disaster on December 26 last year.

"This is the highest contribution that the general public has ever given in Namibia and to get over N$60 000 in just 13 days is worthy to mention and we are grateful to the Namibian public," said Kauaria.

The Namibia Red Cross Society will continue with its mobilization drive for more funds through approaching the business parastatals and even the government. Among the donors approached by the humanitarian organisation are First National Bank of Namibia (FNB), Mobile Tele Communications (MTC) and Telecom Namibia. Chairperson of the Namibia Red Cross Governing Board, Dr Helena Ndume also spoke at the event. She updated the media on the current contributions to the Bank Windhoek Fund. Plans are also underway to conduct an inter-phase memorial service as well as a street collection later this month.

*Meanwhile, an emergency contingency response system has also been put in place in case of possible floods in the Caprivi Region. This initiative will jointly be facilitated by the Namibia Red Cross and the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) under the Prime Minister's Office.

On the international front, the emergency relief operation coordinated by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies continues for victims. It is reported that the devastating tidal waves in Asia have left over 150 000 people dead and thousands others are facing a humanitarian crisis.

"International volunteers are working hard to give first aid, distributing relief items, identifying or buying bodies, tracing the missing and giving psychological support," explained Dr Ndume.

Sri Lanka, Maldives, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India and Thailand have been struck by this catastrophe. However, Dr Ndume said whilst much attention is being given to the situation in South East Asia due to its intensity, African countries along the East African coastline are not getting the attention they deserve.

"We have learned that there are some areas in Somalia, the Seychelles and other parts of East Africa, which were also severely affected and are in urgent need of assistance," said Dr Ndume. However this gave rise to an inter-agency appeal by the United Nations (UN) for more than US$10 million to help thousands of people affected by the Tsunami in Somalia, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.

"This disaster led to the loss of approximately 150 lives, destruction of shelter, and water sources and the loss of productive assets," she explained.

Two people are also reported to have died in the Seychelles as a result of the cyclone last year, resulting in a crisis to over 500 families due to the damage caused by floods. With no food and household items, some 175 families were evacuated from the areas of Mahe and Praslin in Seychelles. The same situation was prevalent in Tanzania where 10 people died, while in Madagascar, 1 200 are believed to have been displaced by the tidal waves. Kenyans, however, felt the damage to a lesser extent due to an early tsunami alert by the authorities. Yet two people died and 200 fishermen lost their equipment to onrushing waves.

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