5 October 2009
REUTERS/Tim Wimborne courtesy www.alertnet.orgThe British Red Cross has launched the Samoa Tsunami Appeal to help thousands of people in urgent need of emergency aid after a devastating tsunami, which hit on 29 September.
At least 129 people have died and 30,000 people have been affected on islands in the region of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.
The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake and Red Cross staff and volunteers were on the ground even before the wave struck, getting people away from some coastal areas. In the aftermath of this tragedy, volunteers are distributing aid, including food, tarpaulins, blankets, clothing and lanterns.
The Red Cross has also set up camps to provide safe shelter, vital food and comfort for survivors. Water supplies have been cut off in some affected areas and volunteers are working with fire services to deliver safe water.
Several factors may have combined in this disaster – the early hour, how quickly the tsunami hit, and the sheer size of the wave. People’s livelihoods, homes and vehicles have been destroyed.
Mike Goodhand, British Red Cross head of disaster management, said: “In Samoa, an enormous percentage of the total population have been affected. People are in shock as there has not been anything like this in living memory. We are sending an aid worker to help people recover their livelihoods but urgent funds are needed to really help people get back on their feet.”
Red Cross support
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies works with communities to help them prepare for disasters. Thanks to the swift work of Red Cross volunteers and the pre-positioned stocks on the ground, they were able to respond swiftly to the needs of their communities.
However, ongoing support is needed in water and sanitation, health, shelter and psycho-social care. The Red Cross is also working to restore contact between family members separated by the disaster.
Asia Pacific disasters
The Asia Pacific region is tragically living up to its reputation as one of the most disaster-prone regions of the world. The British Red Cross responded by launching its Asia Pacific Disasters Appeal on 30 September, which covered the Indonesian earthquake, the Samoan tsunami and countries dealing with the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
As a member agency of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), the British Red Cross is supporting the DEC Disasters Appeal for Indonesia, Philippines & Vietnam, and a proportion of money received from this appeal will go to support Red Cross work in responding to these disasters. The needs in these areas are huge, and we support the DEC in bringing together the leading UK aid agencies to raise money to help save lives and rebuild these shattered communities.
However, the British Red Cross considers that there are still significant unmet needs in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, which is why it has launched its own Samoa Tsunami Appeal. Mike said: “We know that when we ask, people dig deep to help. We hope people will help make both appeals a success.”
In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.
(Note: The Samoa Tsunami Appeal will provide immediate relief for tsunami survivors in the Pacific islands, including the Samoan islands and Tonga and help them to recover in the future. The DEC appeal covers disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.)
Find out more about the Asia Pacific disasters