October 2, 2009


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---95-Year-Old Humanitarian Aid Organization Responds---

NEW YORK, NY, October 1, 2009—The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an overseas humanitarian aid organization working in over 70 countries, today announced that it is collecting funds on a non-sectarian basis for relief efforts following two earthquake-related disasters in the Asia Pacific region: in the tsunami-wracked Samoan islands and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra; as well as the Tropical Storm Parma, which strengthened to a typhoon and two cyclones in the Philippines, leaving hundreds dead and thousands homeless.

JDC is conducting a full and rapid assessment of the situation on the ground, and reaching out to its network of local, Israeli, and other international partners to determine critical next steps based on immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas. JDC will look to fill critical gaps in humanitarian assistance being provided. The efforts are part of JDC’s International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of these catastrophic disasters, and as we did following the 2004 Tsunami in Southeast Asia, JDC will leverage its strong partnerships in the region and around the world to respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of those affected,” said Steve Schwager, JDC Chief Executive Officer. “It is our long-standing mission to provide as much help as possible for people whose lives have been suddenly devastated, be it by supplying food, medicines, and blankets or rebuilding schools and homes. Now and in the months to come, JDC will provide both immediate relief and long-term assistance to help these victims rebuild their lives,” he added.


JDC and its partners worldwide have implemented similar relief efforts and continue to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions. Last year, JDC was among the first humanitarian aid organizations on the ground providing basic necessities and helping evacuate Jews from the war zone in Georgia; and JDC entered Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta to immediately provide water, food, and medical supplies to victims of Cyclone Nargis. JDC has since partnered with local NGOs to rebuild the affected region’s schools and homes.

JDC’s non-sectarian efforts have provided aid to those affected by the cyclone in Bangladesh; the earthquake in Peru; the Tsunami in Southeast Asia; the floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic; the victims of terror in Turkey; the earthquakes in El Salvador, India, Morocco, and Turkey; displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the eruption of the Mt. Nyiragongo volcano; and the war-torn communities in Kosovo.

The Current Situation:
A major relief operation has begun in the Pacific islands of Samoa and American Samoa, which were hit by a tsunami that killed more than 100 people and wiped out villages and resorts. Rescue officials said planes carrying medics, food, water, and other supplies were heading there and that tens of thousands of people need help in villages swamped by waves triggered by a huge earthquake. The UN said it was sending an emergency team to Samoa. Latest reports say at least 83 people were killed in Samoa, more than 30 in American Samoa, and at least seven in Tonga.

A series of earthquakes has rocked the Indonesian island of Sumatra, leaving a death toll into the hundreds and expected to rise. Power lines have been cut, and hundreds of buildings, including hospitals, collapsed in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province. Thousands of people are feared to be trapped under the rubble, while thousands more have been displaced due to heavy rains and landslides.

Tropical Storm Parma strengthened to a typhoon Sept. 30 and two more cyclones developed over the Pacific east of the Philippines, four days after Ketsana left 246 people dead in Luzon. Parma is forecast to keep strengthening and may approach the coast as early as Oct. 2, potentially bringing more rain to the Philippines, where water and mud still clog parts of Manila.

To keep updated on JDC’s response and relief efforts visit http://www.jdc.org/crisis

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