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In it for the long haul, the Red Cross says

Wednesday January 5, 2005

As Australian Red Cross reached another milestone, reaching $51.5 million in funds raised for the Red Cross Asia Quake and Tsunamis Appeal, it stated that the sheer scale of destruction and the effect the disaster had on hundreds of thousands of people across many countries is such that it will take a very long time before the communities and livelihoods can fully recover and be rebuilt.

'From day one thousands of local Red Cross volunteers were providing first aid, evacuating people and helping collect the bodies. In Banda Aceh, 800 Red Cross volunteers collected over 6,000 bodies, provided 1,800 family kits and 1,000 tarpaulins in the first few days,' said Nathan Rabe, Head of International Operations Department of Australian Red Cross.

In Sri Lanka, the International Committee of the Red Cross and around a thousand local volunteers have reached over 60,000 people (12,000 families) with essential household items in northern and eastern Sri Lanka. Each family received a kit typically including a bucket, three bed sheets, two plastic mats, a cooking set, and soap.

'Our immediate relief efforts are continuing and increasing by the day, but the picture that is emerging from the reports of our field assessment teams is that devastation is total, and the needs will be huge and long-term. The Red Cross anticipates it will be active in the affected region for some years, assisting the affected people to rebuild their lives, their communities and their livelihoods. Such support is vital, as even before the disaster struck, many of the affected communities were acutely vulnerable.

We are there for the long haul. Local Red Cross, which is part of fabric of communities and was itself affected by the devastation, was there from the start, and it will remain by the side of those we are assisting, helping them recover,' added Mr Rabe.

The funds raised in Australia are being used in one of three ways:

  • To fund the deployment of specialist delegates to the region to assist in the international Red Cross response;

  • To support the relief and rehabilitation work of our Red Cross and Red Crescent Partners through the global emergency appeal;

  • To support an Australian Red Cross program of assistance in the affected area

More specifically the Red Cross is working to provide emergency assistance as well as longer-term support for the affected people in a range of areas such as:
- Shelter (tarpaulins, tents, temporary accommodation etc)
- Food and Non-food assistance (food rations, supplementary food, kitchen sets, hygiene kits, clothing etc)
- Water & Sanitation (safe water supplies, sanitation facilities in camps and elsewhere, building water storages, preventing outbreak of water-borne diseases)
- Health (first aid, treatment and recovery, prevention of outbreaks of diseases, recovery of public health care facilities, psychological support.

To donate to Australian Red Cross Asia Quake and Tsunamis Appeal, log onto, call toll free 1800 811 700 or make a donation over the counter at any branch of theCommonwealth, St George Banks, Australian Credit Union in NT & SA, New England Credit Union or Adelaide Bank.

For more information about the Red Cross response go to our special section on the appeal (see link below).