Saturday, January 01, 2005

Tsunami - Fact file Who's helping?

U.S. announces $350 million in tsunami aid
Pledge will deflect criticism, provide major boost to relief effort

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 4:19 p.m. ET Dec. 31, 2004

The United States is pledging $350 million to help tsunami victims, a tenfold increase over its first wave of aid, President Bush announced Friday. The U.S. aid contribution could rise even beyond that, if needed, Secretary of State Colin Powell said later in the day.

That sum will provide a substantial boost to the overall international aid effort to areas stricken by Sunday's tsunami. As of Thursday, nations had donated about $500 million toward the world's largest-ever relief effort, including $250 million from the World Bank, but U.N. chief Kofi Annan said even more was needed.

The increase in U.S. aid will likely silence criticism of Washington's initial offer, seen by many as meager in light of the enormity of the disaster and the wealth of the United States.

“Initial findings of American assessment teams on the ground indicate that the need for financial and other assistance will steadily increase in the days and weeks ahead,” Bush said Friday in a statement released in Crawford, Texas, where he is staying at his ranch.

“Our contributions will continue to be revised as the full effects of this terrible tragedy become clearer,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this epic disaster.”

The White House announced Thursday that it would be sending a delegation led by Powell to Indian Ocean coastal areas ravaged by earthquake and tsunami to assess what more the United States needs to do. The president’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will travel with him.

As the scale of the disaster became clear, other countries, including Spain and China also sharply increased their offers of aid, to $68 million and $63 million, respectively.

Military backup
As fund-raising proceeded, militaries across the globe also geared up to help. A U.S. aircraft carrier battle group was steaming to Indonesia's Sumatra island, which was closest to last Sunday's quake and is home to most of the casualties.

Fact file Who's helping
The United Nations mobilized what it called the biggest relief operation in its history following Sunday’s giant waves, which killed tens of thousands of people.
The following is a list of contributions pledged, compiled from reports by Reuters bureaus and United Nations agencies.
Country/Agency Contributions pledged
Australia Increased aid to $27 million and said it, the United States, Japan and India were considering setting up a group to coordinate help. Also sent five air force transport planes with supplies and medical specialists to Sumatra, and two 15-member emergency medical teams and 12 police to Phuket.
Austria 1 million euros ($1.4 million) in aid to the countries hit.
Belgium Military plane due to stop at Dubai to load most of its cargo -- UNICEF aid such as tents, vaccines.
Britain Pledged 15 million pounds ($28.9 million); plastic sheets and tents worth 250,000 pounds to Sri Lanka; 370,000 pounds to EU aid offer, $100,000 to World Health Organisation.
Canada C$4 million ($3.3 million); Blankets, water tablets, jerrycans and plastic sheeting sent to Sri Lanka.
China 520 million yuan ($63 million), a sharp increase from its initial offer of 20 million yuan.
Czech Republic Sent drinking water and medicine to Sri Lanka and Thailand; pledged 10 million crowns ($446,000).
Denmark Increased aid pledge to 85 million Danish crowns ($15.6 million) after spending almost all initial 10 million crowns pledged. Aid to cover medical supplies, food, water, shelter, reconstruction. UNICEF flight from Copenhagen taking supplies to the area, including oral rehydration salts and medical supplies for 150,000 people for three months.
Egypt Egyptian Red Crescent Society sending a plane with 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($81,000) worth of medicine and other aid as initial step.
Country/Agency Contributions pledged
European Union Ready to release up to 30 million euros on top of 3 million euros already allocated to IFRC.
Finland Pledged 2.5 million euros spread among World Food Program, UNICEF, WHO and IFRC. Local aid groups give 75,000 euros. Finnish Red Cross send field hospital with 15 staff to Sri Lanka and 31 aid workers to Thailand.
France 15 million euros pledged to affected states in Southeast Asia. French authorities and aid groups decide to send 110 tons of aid.
Germany Doubling emergency aid to 2 million euros. Air force medical evacuation plane to set off for Phuket, two more planes chartered to take disaster relief teams, medicine and consular officials there. Germany’s largest utility E.ON donates 1 million euros.
Greece Sending C-130 transport aircraft carrying 25 rescue workers to Phuket on Thursday to help with rescue operations. Sent plane to Sri Lanka with five tons of food and clothes; offered 150,000 euros in aid.
Israel Sent one medical team to Sri Lanka, one to Thailand. Military search and rescue team due in Sri Lanka, held up by coordination problems.
Italy Will send 2 Hercules aircraft, one to Sri Lanka, one to Thailand.
Japan Pledged $30 million in aid, sent three navy vessels to Thailand to help rescue survivors.
Kuwait Pledged aid supplies worth $2 million, sent $100,000 immediate aid.
Country/Agency Contributions pledged
Netherlands Contributing 2 million euros to Red Cross-Red Crescent appeal, plus participating in EU aid program.
Norway Preliminary contribution of 50 million Norwegian crowns ($8.2 million) for emergency relief, including medicine, food, clean water and shelter.
Poland Earmarked 1 million zlotys ($336,000) for Polish NGOs involved in relief.
Qatar Sent urgent relief aid worth $10 million.
Saudi Arabia Pledged $10 million aid package -- $5 million of food, tents and medicine to be distributed via Saudi Red Crescent, $5 million for international aid groups such as the Red Cross and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Singapore Contributing some $1.2 million to global effort, military medical teams and supplies ready to fly to Indonesia.
Slovakia Sent plane with drinking water, tents and medicine to Sri Lanka; aid worth 6.6 million Slovak crowns ($231,660).
Slovenia Donating 20 million tolars ($113,500) of aid through International Red Cross and Crescent.
South Korea Raises aid to $2 million, may send military cargo plane to move aid workers and supplies.
Country/Agency Contributions pledged
Spain Pledges $68 million. It also sent aircraft to Sri Lanka with first aid, sanitary equipment and 19 volunteers.
Sweden Sent 2 communications specialists to help U.N. relief efforts in Sri Lanka. Sending tents and communication equipment to Maldives. Swedish Red Cross to contribute $750,000 to IFRC appeal.
Switzerland Has allotted 2 million Swiss francs in aid on six teams to bring in drinking water, food and shelter supplies.
Taiwan Pledged additional $5 million after giving $100,000 to Indonesia, $50,000 each to Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. Sends more than 100 relief workers.
United Arab Emirates Pledged $2 million in aid; its Red Crescent society to provide food, blankets and clothing.
United States Pledged $350 million. Pentagon ordered 12 vessels to region, though no decision taken on their role.
International Committee of the Red Cross Cargo plane flying from Kenya to Sri Lanka carrying 105 tons of supplies, provide aid to 150,000 people in north and east. Trying to raise more than 50 million Swiss francs ($44 million).
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Has dispensed initial one million Swiss franc grant for relief efforts and launched appeal for 7.5 million francs.
IMF Intends to provide assistance, no specific pledges.
Country/Agency Contributions pledged
UNHCR Initially distributing $380,000 of non-food relief items, including plastic sheeting, clothing, kitchen sets.
UNICEF Delivered 50 water tanks to southern India, 45-tonne shipment of water purification tablets and water systems due to reach Sri Lanka on Thursday. WHO and UNICEF said they were providing four emergency kits to Indonesia to cover 40,000 people for three months, providing shelter, food and clothing.
U.N. World Food Program Sends 168 tons of commodities to Sri Lanka, plus more than 4,000 tons of rice, wheat flour, lentils and sugar, enough to provide 500,000 people with emergency rations for two weeks.
U.N. Development Program Provided $100,000 each to Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Thailand to help assess damage and coordinate emergency needs.
U.N. Population Fund Earmarked up to $1 million and extra staff to help health needs of pregnant and nursing women.
Source: Reuters

C-130 cargo planes touched down there Friday with blankets, medicine and the first of 80,000 body bags. New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Pakistan and scores of other nations also had planes in the air, rushing aid to victims.

"This is an unprecedented global catastrophe and it requires an unprecedented global response," Annan said, as aid agencies warned that 5 million people lack clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and medicine.

Relief flights headed to the region from Britain and France carrying bottled water, tarpaulins, cooking sets and medical supplies. Russia sent a third relief plane to Sri Lanka carrying military-issue tents, drinking water, water purification stations and disinfecting supplies.

Coordinating efforts
On Thursday, World Bank President James Wolfensohn announced release of $250 million for tsunami relief by telephone during a meeting at U.N. headquarters convened to plan the next steps in the unprecedented global relief effort, U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Representatives of 18 U.N. agencies and private aid groups or coalitions participated in the meeting, either in person or via a telephone or video link, the United Nations said.

Thursday's meeting was the first in a series scheduled at the world body’s New York offices to focus on how to quickly gear up the aid campaign and prepare for an initial emergency fund-raising appeal to be launched by the United Nations next week.

Annan also held a videoconference with representatives of a four-country coalition announced by President Bush on Wednesday that will serve as “the core group” in relief coordination efforts, U.N. officials said.

Coordination appeared to be desperately needed in the chaotic aftermath of the tsunami. Survivors fought over packs of noodles in quake-stricken Indonesian streets Wednesday while relief supplies piled up at the airport for lack of cars, gas or passable roads to move them.

The United Nations will launch an international appeal Jan. 6 for money to cover the emergency response phase, but U.N. officials have said billions of dollars will be needed to rebuild the shattered countries.

Debt relief mulled
Meanwhile, there was a growing call among European nations, led by Germany and France, for the Paris Club group of 19 creditor nations to consider granting a debt moratorium for countries hit by the tsunami, to bolster economic recovery and rebuilding.

On Thursday, Canada announced it had taken such a move unilaterally and that it would urge other creditor nations about offering relief to the stricken nations.

Indonesia, which suffered the worst devastation, would likely be the greatest beneficiary of debt relief. It owes the Paris Club around $40 billion and is the largest debtor in the disaster zone, according to the World Bank.

A moratorium would mean little to countries such as Somalia and Myanmar, which stopped paying their debts to the Paris Club years ago.

Corporations give for tsunami aid

Celebrities do their bit
International agencies reported an unprecedented surge in individual donations for disaster relief. The British-based relief agency Oxfam raised $1.2 million in three days from private donors.

Hong Kong Red Cross said it received $3.3 million in donations from the public and various organizations. Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, who heads a global commercial empire, pitched in $3.1 million to disaster relief efforts.

Movie star Jackie Chan donated $64,282 to UNICEF, the agency said, and actor Chow Yun-fat, gave $25,600 to a disaster relief fund set up by Hong Kong's Apple Daily, the mass-market paper reported Wednesday.

In Thailand, the royal family, mourning the death of 21-year-old Poom Jensen, the Thai-American grandson of King Bhumipol Adulyadej, led nationwide calls for help for the survivors.

In the United States, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $3 million and said it raised more than $3.5 million in online donations to aid South Asian countries devastated by tsunamis.
© 2004 MSNBC Interactive

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