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Australian Red Cross statement on tsunami aid

Tuesday March 1, 2005

In the light of recent isolated media reports alleging incorrectly that there will be a 'Ten-year wait for tsunami victims', Australian Red Cross is issuing this statement.

The suggestion that those affected by the tsunami will wait for ten years to receive aid is completely false. From the start of the crisis Australian Red Cross has joined International Red Cross in mounting a massive relief operation to support the people affected throughout the region devastated by the tsunami.

'In the first 30 days, the Red Cross reached some 500,000 affected people, delivering vital food and non-food aid, as well as medical and other assistance,' says Robert Tickner, Secretary General / CEO of Australian Red Cross.

Already Australian Red Cross has provided $24 million to meet the most urgent needs of the affected population, including (but not limited to) things such as:

  • Clean water for around 115,000 survivors in Sri Lanka and Indonesia
  • Medical care to over 1,000 people every day
  • Deployment of 23 specialist Australian aid workers as part of the 500-strong international Red Cross deployment of personnel
  • 460,000 hygiene parcels in Sri Lanka and Indonesia
  • 309,000 blankets to survivors in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Indonesia
  • Over 100 cargo flights of humanitarian relief supplies for affected countries
  • Psychological support to some 11,000 people
  • Temporary shelter for over 40,000 in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar and Maldives

However, the emergency phase of the operation is nearing a close and Red Cross is now beginning an even more demanding task of recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation.

'The Red Cross has been there, working with these communities before the disaster hit. We will continue to be there for the long haul, making sure the communities fully recover and helping them rebuild their lives,' added Mr Tickner.

The Red Cross estimates that the recovery and reconstruction phase, which will include rebuilding urban areas, medical structures and other humanitarian programs, could last between one and five years, depending on the level of destruction.

The rehabilitation phase, including programs such as re-establishing livelihoods and economies, disaster preparedness and psychological recovery, some of which have already started, is expected to continue for up to 10 years.

Finally, media reports alleging that a flat 10% of funds raised is used for administration are incorrect. Australian Red Cross has clearly stated from the beginning that its costs for any international appeal are no more than 10% of any funds raised. However, as always, the Red Cross will be working hard to keep this cost as low as possible, ensuring that the maximum amount of funds raised goes to those in need.