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Third of Swiss tsunami donations allocated

Reconstruction work in Aceh, the region most devastated by the tsunami Keystone

Six months after the devastating tsunami in southeast Asia, Swiss Solidarity has already spent or earmarked SFr70 million ($55 million) for relief work.

This content was published on June 22, 2005 - 14:31

The charity, which is the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo’s parent company, received record donations of SFr224 million.

Swiss Solidarity and its partner organisations have already put SFr56 million into use for relief work. Further projects worth almost SFr14 million are currently being processed.

To date, Swiss Solidarity has cooperated with 14 Swiss relief organisations and their local partners in six countries and reviewed a total of 69 projects.

The charity only worked with these partners despite requests from new organisations.

"Our principle is to collaborate only with locally implanted organisations," said Swiss Solidarity director Félix Bollmann. "Those who benefit from our funding have to able to express their needs."

The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people died and two million were made homeless by the underwater earthquake on December 26 that devastated the coastlines of southeast Asia and also affected countries in east Africa.

The bulk of the emergency relief work has been carried out in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia but Somalia and Thailand have also been included.

Colossal pressure

Speaking on Wednesday, Bollmann was upbeat about the result so far. "The Swiss Solidarity distribution system has proved it can work under colossal pressure," he said.

Andreas Blum, president of the commission responsible for approving requests from relief organisations, pointed out that the effort had been unprecedented.

"Never before has Swiss Solidarity converted so much donated cash into relief aid in such a short time," he added.

Relief organisations said that in many places a variety of issues - legal, official, psychosocial, ecological, economic and political - were hampering the implementation of projects.

They admit that because of this, rebuilding in many areas will only be able to start in one or two years’ time and will often take years.

The Swiss government also provided relief of its own after the tsunami. In May, Switzerland’s armed forces officially ended their aid operation in Indonesia’s devastated Aceh province.

Swiss army helicopters transported 368 tons of material and more than 2,200 people during their six-week mission in the region.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The undersea earthquake happened near Sumatra in southeast Asia on December 26 2004 and measured 9 on the Richter scale.
Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives were most severely affected.
The United Nations estimates 300,000 people died and two million were made homeless.
Authorities in Switzerland say 100 Swiss died.

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In brief

Founded in 1946, Swiss Solidarity is the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (swissinfo’s parent company).

Swiss Solidarity received record donations of SFr224 million after the tsunami in southeast Asia on December 26.

It has already put SFr56 million into use for relief work. Further projects worth almost SFr14 million are currently being processed.

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