UK to airlift further 45 tons of water, supplies to Maldives

As the world came to grips with the depth of the crisis of tsunamis that struck 12 Indian Ocean countries after earthquakes the day after Christmas, total giving toward relief efforts topped $2.5 billion. The United States -- criticized for its initial pledge of $15 million -- upping its commitment over the New Year's weekend from $35 million to $350 million. And the WHO reported the official death toll shot past 150,000, with over 90,000 dead in Indonesia and 30,000 in Sri Lanka...

LONDON, Jan. 2, 2005 (GNN) -- A further 45 tons of bottled water and collapsible jerry cans (water jugs) are to be sent to the Maldives where there remains a pressing need for clean drinking water.

In the meantime, as World Health Organization reported the official death toll shot past 150,000, total giving toward relief efforts topped $2.5 billion, with the United States -- criticized for its initial pledge of $15 million -- upping its commitment over the weekend from $35 million to $350 million.

Further WHO communiqués declared the "shortage of clean water is widespread and risk of diseases outbreaks increased throughout region. Death rates will rise due to communicable diseases unless humanitarian assistance is provided promptly and is well coordinated."

The GE Foundation committed $1 million toward the relief effort and -- like Citicorp, which pledged $3 million -- agreed to match any employee contributions as well. Other reported corporate donations ranged from $200,000 to $10,000.

Back in the United Kingdom, the Department for International Development has booked and funded a flight to the Maldives to carry water and cans donated by Scottish Water and Strathmore Water.

The aircraft -- a DC8 -- will leave Prestwick Airport, Glasgow the morning of Jan. 3. The flight will stop off in Bengazi (Libya) for refueling before arriving in Male in the Maldives on Jan. 5.

This is the second airlift of water from the UK to the Maldives. On Dec. 29 a charter plane provided by First Choice Holidays took water donated by Scottish Water to the Maldives.

Writing in The Observer today, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, said: "Our teams have reported back on the increasing scale of destruction and loss of life. We have pledged 50 million pounds [US$95.2 million] based on their assessment of the need and in response to requests from the Red Cross, UN and UK aid agencies. We are now committing this money to support the relief effort. This will be the largest humanitarian relief operation in history and it is important every country does all it can. The UK has made a substantial commitment and we will do more as required."

Hilary Benn also urged the public to support the appeal by Britain's aid agencies under the umbrella of The Disasters Emergency Committee (www.dec.org.uk). Money pledged to the DEC agencies and by the UK Government on behalf of British taxpayers is now over 110 million pounds [US$209.46 million] and is already being put to work in the affected countries.

More news and information on the humanitarian response, including daily situation reports, is available on DFID's website: www.dfid.gov.uk.

Other Emergency Relief Organizations
If you would care to assist in the humanitarian response to the disaster through another organization, feel free to contact the following:
-- UNICEF: www.unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4UNICEF (86-4233).
-- American Red Cross: www.redcross.org or 1-800-HELP-NOW (435-7669)
-- Americares: www.americares.org or call AmeriCares directly at 1-800-486-HELP (4357)
-- CARE: www.care.org or 1-800-422-7385
-- Oxfam: www.oxfamamerica.org or 1-800-77-OXFAM (69326)
-- Save the Children: www.savethechildren.org or 1-800-728-3843
-- Doctors Without Borders: www.doctorswithoutborders.org
-- Catholic Relief Services: www.catholicrelief.org
-- World Vision: www.worldvision.org

Although it does work for improved water quality in Asia, Africa and Latin America through its programs, Water For People, a Denver-based independent organization supported by various organizations and companies in the water industry, pointed out that it is not an emergency relief organization. Instead, it pointed people to another list of organizations found at the MSNBC website: Asia's Deadly Tsunami.

Feel free to specify to direct your donations to South Asia Earthquake/Tsunami Relief Effort. Remember, though, that a number of other areas of the world also may continue to need assistance as resources are redirected -- so you may want to direct it toward general humanitarian relief efforts.

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NOTE: This article was compiled from a variety of sources, including Business Wire and PR Newswire.

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