GENEVA–(ENEWSPF)–9March 2010. In order to provide more comprehensive assistance to a greater number of families, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has revised the emergency appeal it launched a week ago to support the Chilean Red Cross Society (CRCS) relief operation for people affected by the massive earthquake that struck Chile on 27 February.
The IFRC is now calling for 13 million Swiss francs (12.9 million USD/ 9.4 million €) to fund health services, shelter assistance, relief items as well as water and sanitation services for one year.
“In discussions I had with regional and national authorities, including the Chilean president, it was clear that emergency and transitional shelter were absolute priorities, especially with the rainy season beginning very soon and winter just around the corner,” explains IFRC Secretary General Bekele Geleta, who is currently on an official visit to Chile.
“In terms of health care, we know that many hospitals were severely damaged. It will take many months to rebuild them and in the meantime, the health needs of the population in those regions must be met. Our new appeal therefore also focuses on health care (clinics), including vital psychological support to help people traumatized by the loss of loved ones, of homes and livelihoods,” he adds.
Additional water and sanitation services will be provided, especially in rural areas, as well as livelihoods support. The appeal funds will also be used to further strengthen the Chilean Red Cross, in particular by providing training for staff and volunteers. “This additional support will help us recruit more volunteers, increase our support to the most vulnerable groups as well as develop our disaster preparedness programmes,” notes Lorenza Donoso, president of the Chilean Red Cross.
“We currently have some 2,500 active volunteers in the country and we have received 30,000 new requests to become a Red Cross volunteer since the earthquake struck, so we are very hopeful that we will be able to recruit many more volunteers in the future,” she says. The Chilean Red Cross continues to distribute food, hygiene articles and other relief items to survivors.
According to the latest government figures, more than 528 people have died, most of them after a tsunami, caused by the tremor, struck a coastal strip of 500 kilometres. More than 500 people have been injured, two million affected and at least 500,000 houses have been damaged.