Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Gib Red Cross Tsunami Appeal Tops £100,000

by Alice Mascarenhas and PA Reporters

Gibraltar Red Cross Asian Appeal has already topped £100,000. The fund was boosted by a substantial donation over the New Year break by father and son, Joe and James Gaggero, of £50,000. On the day the appeal was launched locally - December 29 - over £20,000 was donated into the account set up at Barclays Bank. GBC donated £25,000 from the money raised for the GBC Open Day Fund whilst many individual donations included anonymous sums of four and five thousand pounds. On December 31 the account stood at £50,600.

The earthquake and tsunami which struck on Boxing Day are now feared to have killed almost 150,000 people and charities have warned of a “logistical nightmare’’ as they attempt to reach millions of survivors. Indonesia confirmed a further 14,000 deaths, bringing the total in the country to more than 94,000 fatalities, and joined India and Sri Lanka in admitting thousands of people still missing are unlikely to be found. More than £1bn has been pledged to the relief effort worldwide, with £60m donated by the British public.

Despite difficulties caused by destruction of roads, ports and airfields, aid has slowly started to reach some of the most isolated areas. Food and water are being delivered by trucks and helicopter to temporary camps crowded with the homeless. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, due in Jakarta on Thursday, said the region may take five to 10 years to recover and aid agencies said the clean-up operation alone could take months.

Gibraltar Red Cross Chairman Tony Lombard told the Chronicle he remained speechless when Joe Gaggero gave him the news of their donation. A cheque for the said amount was presented to him and Red Cross Treasurer Charles Montegriffo on Sunday. “It is an unparalleled personal donation which has so far placed the appeal fund in excess of £100,000. I cannot find the right adjective to describe this unparalleled example of generosity by Joe and James Gaggero,” he emphasised. "To put the amount into perspective we must look at some of the donations in the UK where well known figures such as Sharon Osbourne have donated £25,000, BHS boss Philip Green donated £100,000, the same amount as Camelot, and Simon Cowell £10,000. Locally I don’t believe there has been such a large donation presented to us ever and we are very grateful to both Joe and James,” he added.

In terms of what Gibraltar can do with the money raised so far to help and ease the plight of the suffering across South East Asia, Mr Lombard explained that £250 provides shelter and food for 100 people in the disaster areas. “With what we have raised so far based on that analysis our effort so far will provide shelter and food for some 40,000 people and that is magnificent,” he said.

Mr Lombard stressed what the latest figure meant in terms of money raised per capita which again, he pointed out, far outstrips what other populations have donated so far. He insisted people had not had enough time to respond to the appeal because of the Christmas holidays and was confident the funds would be substantially increased over the next few days. It is still not known how much money was collected on New Years Eve at Casemates but Mr Lombard confirmed more than 40 tins had been filled on the night. Gibraltar Red Cross Branch Treasurer Charles Montegriffo appealed to local businesses, companies, banks and shops to help and give generously to the appeal.

Meanwhile the Gibraltar Branch of the Red Cross are planning to hold a flag day on Friday. An account called The British Red Cross South East Asia Appeal Fund has been opened at Barclays Bank. The account number is 1091667.

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