17 February 2005

Tons of tsunami aid stuck at Durban airport

About 100 tons of clothing and food aid collected for South Asian tsunami victims is sitting at Durban International Airport and will never reach the people it was intended for.

This is because aid workers in the affected areas have been inundated with relief aid and have requested that no more food and clothing be sent.

The Acting Director General of the Sri Lankan Red Cross, Ranjith Mudalide, said: "We are moving away from the relief phase and into the second phase, focusing on reconstruction. We need materials for housing to rebuild and to restore the economic livelihood of the people."

Mudalide said there was still a need for medical supplies.

At the airport, tons of clothing and food donated by organisations, private donors and companies stands unused.

The Airports Company of South Africa's Manager of Data and Research, Chris Jacobs, pleaded for companies to stop donating food.

He said the company hoped that the goods at the airport could be distributed among the needy in KwaZulu-Natal.

The airport has approached the South African Red Cross Society in an effort to get the goods distributed locally.

However, KwaZulu-Natal Red Cross Manager Derick Naidoo said it was difficult to redistribute aid because the donors had given the goods in the expectation that they would be sent to tsunami-hit areas.

"We cannot take this stuff and distribute it locally without the donors' permission," he said.

Naidoo said he would like to remove the goods from the airport within the next few weeks. He said about 40 tons of goods had been sent from South Africa.

Cash donations can be made to: SA Red Cross Standard Bank; Westville branch; code 045426; account number 050 28 3359


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