Musicians Join Tsunami Relief Effort

USA – American band Linkin Park has responded to the south Asian
disaster by setting up a charity with the American Red Cross. The organization,
Music For Relief, is already
up and running and accepting donations. The Web site encourages potential donors
to make a financial gift to the
American Red Cross
International Response Fund
, which provides supplies, medicine, and shelter
to those in need. Benefactors can also donate by phoning 1-800-HELP-NOW. Callers
are asked to press option #2 and tell the representative that they called
because of Music for Relief. Donations by mail are possible by sending a check
to Music For Relief, c/o GSO, 15260 Ventura Blvd. Suite #2100, Sherman Oaks, CA
91403. Checks should be made payable to American Red Cross, International
Response Fund and in the Memo write Music for Relief – Tsunami. All donations go
directly to aid the victims and their families. A list of other charities is available

.Linkin Park has started things off with a $100,000 donation. Linkin Park was
created in Southern California in the mid-1990s. The band combines alternative
heavy metal with hip hop and DJ scratching (also known as turntable art). Linkin
Park members are: Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda (vocals), Brad Delson
(guitars), Joseph Hahn (turntables), Rob Bourdon (drums), and Phoenix (bass).

At a time when people are typically celebrating the start of a brand new
year, the people of southern Asia and eastern Africa will begin the year 2005
recovering from tragedy and disaster. But even with this bleak picture, an
international humanitarian effort has formed, providing hope to disaster victims
who now know help is on the way. Today, the American Red Cross announced it is
sending an initial $30 million in aid to the affected areas. Of this, $25
million will help pay for relief food supplies for the victims of this disaster
and the other $5 million will be used for non-food relief items, such as hygiene

Contributions continue to pour in for the relief effort, and as of 7:00 pm on
Thursday evening, December 30th, the American public had generously pledged
$43.7 million to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.
Contributions to a relief organization like the American Red Cross will allow
the organization to provide immediate relief and long term support through
supplies, technical assistance and other support to those in need.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, along with
national societies like the American Red Cross, are working in partnership to
provide relief and aid to those affected by this tragedy. With a disaster of
this magnitude, many international humanitarian and non-government organizations
are coordinating relief efforts.

UNICEF said today it is concerned that children throughout the
tsunami-devastated region have been orphaned or separated from their families
and are in critical need of basic care and support.

It is hard to imagine the fear, confusion and desperation of children who
have seen enormous waves wash away their worlds and cast dead bodies upon the
” UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said Friday. “Children have
lost all semblance of the life they knew – from parents, siblings and friends to
homes, schools and neighborhoods. They are in desperate need of care.”

UNICEF has estimated that children account for more than one-third of tsunami
deaths, but reliable figures on the number of children who survived the floods
but are now separated from their families are not available. Given the high
death toll, however – now over 100,000 – there is every liklihood that across
the region there are thousands of separated children.

In Sri Lanka, the UNICEF office has begun to support government and local
communities to assess the number and whereabouts of unaccompanied children.
Although figures are not yet available, UNICEF staff in Colombo reported as of
late Thursday that there were more reports of parents in search of children than
children who have been found to be alone.

There are also those like Tamarashi, a 13-year-old girl from a coastal village
in India, who watched from her family’s kitchen as her parents, who were sitting
under a coconut palm trying to sell fish, were folded into the waves. It would
be three days after the waters receded before relief workers could coax
Tamarashi to leave the beach. She survived the waves after getting caught on a
coconut tree and is now too stunned to do little more than cry and ask why she
wasn’t taken along with her parents.

Throughout the affected region, UNICEF is starting to coordinate with NGOs and
government authorities to develop systems to identify children and reunite them
with parents or other relatives. With large, extended families the norm in many
of the affected communities, the first task is to place children back with
grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins or close members of their communities – a
process that Bellamy said was apparently already occurring.

Children belong with families rather than in institutional care,” she
said, adding that early reports suggest that children separated from their
immediate relatives were being cared for by other adults in their communities.

Bellamy commended the good will and intentions of people around the world who
have expressed interest in adopting children affected by the tsunami, but
cautioned that hasty adoptions during emergencies are not in the best interests
of children.

We cannot assume that all the children who cannot find their parents have
lost their entire families
,” Bellamy said. “There are parents, aunts, uncles
and cousins desperately looking for their children and young relatives. Every
effort must be made to assist families and children to reunite before adoptions
can be considered.”

She added that for those who have been orphaned, adoption within the extended
family or community is widely recognized as the first and best option.

UNICEF is now delivering relief assistance to all the countries affected and is
supporting governments throughout the region to assess and begin addressing the
special needs of children. In addition to delivering relief supplies like water
purification materials and clothing, blankets and medicines, in the last 24
hours UNICEF has begun working with government and religious organizations to
establish 30 child/community activity centers in camps for displaced people in
Indonesia’s worst-hit areas of Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.

UNICEF has dispatched ten teams of specially-trained pediatricians and nurses
in Thailand to provide psychological care and support to help children overcome
by trauma. This compliments a network of trained child rights volunteers UNICEF
has on the ground in two districts who are already identifying children in need
of special assistance.

The UN agency has also begun major sanitation and clean-up drives in camps
for displaced people in India and initiated a program to ensure that people in
the camps know how to use supplies such as chlorine tablets for water and oral
re-hydration salts.

[Photo1: Denmark: Workers pack medical supplies bound for Sri Lanka at
UNICEF’s central supply warehouse in Copenhagen, the capital. The materials are
part of UNICEF’s first airlift of relief for coastal communities, ©
UNICEF/HQ04-0864/Lars Bech. Courtesy of UNICEF. Photo 2: Linkin Park, courtesy
of Warner Music].