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January, 2005 - Nr. 1


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Record giving in tsunami aftermath

  TWIG - German charities are reporting an unprecedented outpouring of generosity in the wake of the tsunami disaster that killed more than 150,000 people across southeastern Asia.

By Tuesday, Germans had donated more than 370 million Eur ($486 million) to benefit victims of the December 26 disaster, according to an informal poll of charities conducted by the Associated Press.

That eclipses the previous record of 350 million Eur ($460 million) collected in 2002 after floods devastated much of eastern Germany.

On top of the record-breaking private contributions to charities including the German Red Cross and the UN Children’s Fund, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government has pledged 500 million Eur ($656 million) in emergency and reconstruction aid.

Those funds will be used for immediate relief as well as long-term relief and reconstruction projects in tsunami-devastated countries, Schroeder told a news conference on Wednesday.

Urgent priorities include supplying drinking water, boosting healthcare and aiding children, the Chancellor added.

Schroeder’s comments came after German leaders gathered in Berlin’s main cathedral last Sunday to pay tribute to tsunami victims.

The Chancellor and German President Horst Koehler were among those in attendance at the ecumenical memorial service, where church leaders sought to console a nation still shocked by the scope of the disaster, which claimed the lives of at least 60 German citizens.

"Many will never have their loved ones returned. They will have no place of remembrance," said Bishop Wolfgang Huber, the head of Germany’s Lutheran Church. "It is with them especially that we grieve on this day."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer attended a separate memorial service for tsunami victims at the German Embassy in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Monday.

On a three-nation tour of the affected region, Fischer met with leaders in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. "I have seen terrible suffering, but also impressive cooperation and solidarity," Fischer said in Thailand.

Of the 60 German citizens who have been confirmed dead, 46 were in Thailand and 14 in Sri Lanka. Some 300 Germans were injured. Officials estimate that about 1,000 Germans are among the 150,000 people still missing.

In another development, a German hospital ship arrived off the coast of Indonesia’s hard-hit Aceh province on Wednesday, the German Embassy in Jakarta reported.

The vessel has two helicopters, 45 beds and two operating theaters and will work in conjunction with a German field hospital that has already been established in Banda Aceh, according to an Embassy statement.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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