Charities gear up to help wave victims

AS the international relief effort gets underway across South Asia today charities in Ipswich have launched an urgent appeal for aid.Tens of thousands of people have already lost their lives following the tsunamis that swept the region on Boxing Day and many more have been left injured and homeless.

AS the international relief effort gets underway across South Asia today charities in Ipswich have launched an urgent appeal for aid.

Tens of thousands of people have already lost their lives following the tsunamis that swept the region on Boxing Day and many more have been left injured and homeless.

The UN has warned that disease in the region could double the death toll and major relief is now needed to save lives.

The British Government today pledged £15 million for the massive aid effort to help survivors of the tsunamis which have devastated parts of Asia.


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Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn said the money was "the first phase" of the UK's commitment to helping the afflicted countries.

And the Ipswich branch of UNICEF is today appealing for the people of Suffolk to support their appeal for funds.

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Dev Mukerji, chairman of Ipswich UNICEF, said: "With contaminated water an immediate concern, one of UNICEF's main priorities is to urgently help the survivors of the disaster by ensuring that children and their families have access to clean water, sanitation, medical supplies and shelter.

"UNICEF is appealing for vital funds that will be used to protect the most vulnerable - children and women.

"Please mark the beginning of this New Year by helping us respond to the needs of the children and their families in Asia."

UNICEF is already making assessments and providing assistance in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives and other smaller countries.

With Sri Lanka and Indonesia likely to have the greatest humanitarian needs, UNICEF has already delivered emergency supplies of bedsheets, blankets, cooking utensils, mats, bottled water and 40 tonnes of health supplies and educational materials to 8 of the 12 affected districts in Sri Lanka.

Dr Mukerji added: "In Sri Lanka, many landmines have been displaced by the surging waters posing an additional threat to relief efforts and to survivors as they return to their homes. UNICEF will be starting an immediate mine awareness programme alerting people to the dangers."

Oxfam shops in Ipswich will also be collecting cash donations towards the appeal and posters are expected to go up in shop windows in the Buttermarket and in Westgate Street.

Richard Webb, manager of the two shops, said: "Our campaign will be headed by posters reading Asian Earthquake and Flood Appeal, Oxfam is there, please come inside to donate.

"If people in Ipswich can give what they can afford they will help someone get back to normality as much as possible.

"As soon as there is a disaster Oxfam will assess what is needed and in this case it is money to buy goods where they are needed.

"We will buy goods locally which is much cheaper."

The British Red Cross was due to arrive in Sri Lanka today to co-ordinate the arrival of relief.

Volunteers are helping holidaymakers at Gatwick and other UK airports and Red Cross shops are making clothing available to those who need it.

An airlift containing water was also due to head out from Manchester to the Maldives later today, on an empty plane which is being used by First Choice to pick up stranded tourists on its return.

Mr Benn said they were also looking at an airlift of medical supplies with the World Health Organisation and were buying up tarpaulins, cooking sets and sleeping mats to send out to the thousands of people made homeless in the region.

He said the public could help the relief effort by donating to the Disasters Emergency Committee fund, which is raising money on behalf of all the aid agencies telephone number 0870 60 60 900.

People can also donate money to the Asian disaster appeal by going to banks or post offices from today, and handing over cash, or cheques made payable to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Alternatively, it is possible to donate online at www.dec.org.uk.

Cheques or postal orders made payable to UNICEF can be sent to UNICEF Asia Emergency Appeal, c/o UNICEF Ipswich Group, 144 Westerfield Road, Ipswich, IP4 3AF.

Alternatively people can call into Oxfam stores to make donations.

People can donate to the Red Cross appeal by calling 08705 125 125, going to www.redcross.org.uk, or by sending a cheque to Asia Earthquake and Floods Appeal, British Red Cross, FREEPOST, LOM18968, Sheffield S98 12A.

If you would like to help by holding a collection in your workplace please contact Alana Smith at the Red Croiss on 01394 610419.

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