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Embassy of Jamaica
Washington, D.C. 20036


WASHINGTON, January 7, 2005 (JIS):

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. P.J. Patterson, launched a special fund on Monday to assist victims of the deadly tsunamis that killed more than 150,000 people and left millions more destitute on the continents of Asia and Africa.

Mr. Patterson announced that the Government’s initial contribution of J$15 million to the fund would also be matched by similar significant support from several corporate institutions who have indicated their readiness to make cash donations to the aid initiative.

In addition, the Prime Minister noted that a range of civic and religious organizations have already started collection drives to help tsunami victims recover from the Boxing Day tragedy, which some as described as the worst natural disaster in the south-east Asian region in recorded history.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has also mandated its overseas missions to issue a special appeal to Jamaican firms, organizations and nationals in North America, Europe and around the world, for cash donations which will be deposited into a special account for the purpose. Funds which are collected will then be donated to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

In explaining the rationale for establishing the aid mechanism, Prime Minister Patterson noted that given “the magnitude of the disaster, its direct consequences on 11 nations, and the geographic distance, the Government of Jamaica sought the advice of the United Nations Disaster Committee on the preferred form of assistance from Jamaica at this stage” which suggested the establishment of an emergency fund.

“Following these consultations, the Government has agreed that cash contributions to help with the relief effort would be the best approach at this time,” he said.

The prime minister also mentioned that the decision to have local Jamaican missions in the various jurisdictions receive funds from Jamaica for the U.N. effort, was in response to queries from several Jamaicans in the Diaspora who had contacted the Jamaican Government, asking how they could render assistance.

While recognizing the initial significant outpouring of support, Mr. Patterson implored Jamaicans to do their utmost in the relief effort. “I appeal to Jamaicans both at home and in the Diaspora to give generously, as this is truly a global effort. Our common humanity deserves no less,” he said.

Prime Minister Patterson also advised that Jamaica’s military attaché based at the Jamaican High Commission in London, Colonel Linton Graham, had been dispatched to South-east Asia as part of a Commonwealth team that will support United Nations efforts in responding to the disaster.

Contact: Office of the Ambassador
Phone: 202-452-0672 l Fax: 202-452-0670

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