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BOSTON—International humanitarian agency Oxfam America announced today that in the first week following the devastating tsunamis in Southeast Asia on Dec. 26 the agency has raised about $12 million for our Asia Earthquake Fund, including some $10-million in online donations.
Oxfam President Raymond C. Offenheiser saluted the generosity of tens of thousands of donors whose gifts are being put to use immediately, but which will also help ensure ongoing support during the process of rebuilding communities.
"For the victims of this earthquake and tsunami, the crisis will not be over in the next few weeks," he said. "Donations have already provided thousands with immediate help, and Oxfam will be in it for the long haul."
Within hours of the disaster, Oxfam workers around the world had begun assessing the damage and calculating the scope of the agency's response. Oxfam has sent two planeloads of supplies and equipment to the region, and relief operations are now under way in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India—three of the countries worst-hit by the tsunami, which is estimated to have killed as many as 150,000 people.
Oxfam's response is two-fold: providing food, water, sanitation, and other short-term measures to meet urgent needs and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases, while also laying the groundwork for the longer-term rebuilding of communities, restoration of livelihoods, and preparedness measures to minimize death and destruction in future emergencies.
This regional disaster will require massive and sustained assistance to prevent more deaths and continued suffering. The first 15 days after a natural disaster are crucial. Thousands more people may die during this period if food and clean water are not delivered immediately and appropriate sanitation measures taken. Oxfam has been working on this phase of aid delivery since Dec. 26.
Oxfam has been designated as lead organization in providing clean water to people in and around Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where an estimated 90,000 people need relief aid. The agency has flown equipment to the region, now on its way by truck. With our help, our local partners are also running food kitchens and distributing food, water-purification tablets, and other urgently needed supplies.
In Sri Lanka, Oxfam has shipped 11 tons of water and sanitation equipment and supplies to Trincomalee, where it will provide clean drinking water for 50,000 families.
Oxfam's longstanding commitment to development in Asia, including more than 30 years working in Sri Lanka, has enabled the agency to take advantage of our network of contacts in local communities and our years of support for the local grassroots organizations we partner with in order to provide immediate assistance to survivors. Our partners in the region have been trained in disaster preparedness and were ready to assist in the distribution of aid, which has included water, food, temporary housing and latrines and sanitation equipment to prevent the spread of disease. In addition, Oxfam has deployed flood and public health experts to the region.
Once the critical phase has passed, Oxfam will stay in the region and will continue to work with local communities and grassroots organizations to help rebuild communities through agriculture and microfinance and credit programs.