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Tsunami spend tops $460 million in six months to assist 840,000 people

Thursday June 23, 2005

The International Red Cross has so far helped some 840,000 people with vital aid and support including food, medical assistance, safe water, shelter and clothing since the devastating Boxing Day quake and tsunamis last year.

The CEO of Australian Red Cross, Robert Tickner said today the expenditure of the global humanitarian organisation to date was more than $460 million in the first six-months of arguably the largest emergency relief effort ever mounted.

However, Mr Tickner cautioned the real task of long-term recovery and rebuilding shattered lives would take up to a decade.

'Between now and 2010, the International Red Cross plans to spend $1.5 billion building tens of thousands of homes as well as hospitals, health and child-care centres, and implementing livelihood and disaster management programs in places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia,' said Mr Tickner.

Here in Australia the Red Cross raised $105 million, of which $58.7 million has already been spent or committed, including $24 million contributed to the emergency relief phase of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

According to Mr Tickner, Australian Red Cross had also earmarked millions of dollars donated by the Australian community for some 30 long-term programs. In the Maldives, for example, Red Cross will clear away 290,000 cubic metres of tsunami debris and waste from 70 islands, helping recover tourism and fishing industries, two main sources of income for the affected population. The project is expected to benefit some 50,000 people.

And on Nias island in Indonesia Australian Red Cross is working in partnership with Zero to One Foundation, helping to build 254 houses, 9 bridges, 2 schools, 3 clean water supply systems and 1 first aid centre.

'This is not a race to spend funds fast,' Mr Tickner said. 'The biggest expenditure was always going to come in the longer term recovery stage. Our number one priority is to assist the people affected by this tragedy. We have pledged to build back better. Reconstruction must leave communities in a safer state.'

'The generosity of the public, the corporate sector, State and Federal governments puts us in a position where we have sufficient funding for both immediate and more importantly long-term support and rehabilitation programs.

'It is vital we get this response right and that the programs we implement on the ground have a long-lasting and positive impact on people's lives,' Mr Tickner said.