Kingston, Jamaica, April 23, 1998 --
The appeal was launched at the HQ of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as part of the organisation's on-going response to the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon throughout the Americas.
"The Guyana Red Cross has made very effective use of existing funds in the last three weeks to provide over 25 tons of relief to 332 Amerindian families in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country but, given the situation, there is a great need to step up our efforts," said Denis McClean, the International Federation's Head of Delegation in the Caribbean.
Mrs. Dorothy Fraser, Director General of the Guyana Red Cross, said teams of volunteers have been working round the clock to organise food distributions reaching remote Amerindian settlements in the south-western Rupununi area of the country where forest fires have also been raging.
"We are particularly concerned about reports of increased numbers of malaria and Dengue fever cases. The Red Cross will assist with public health campaigns," said Mrs. Fraser.
Red Cross relief distributions commenced on April 2 and so far have reached Sawarinau, Katoonarib, Yupikari, Parikwarinau, Gunns Strip and Karasabai. Distributions have included over 16 tons of rice, two tons of flour, 2.5 tons of sugar as well as quantities of biscuits, salt, fish, corned beef and soap.
The Red Cross aims to continue distribution of food supplies, seeds and farming tools in the worst-hit areas of the south Rupununi. It will also assist with ensuring a safe drinking water supply through provision of water containers and water purification tablets.
Members of the public wishing to support Red Cross relief efforts in Guyana can make a donation to the Guyana Drought Appeal through their National Red Cross Society.
In its declaration of a State of Emergency on March 26, the Government of Guyana requested regional and international assistance to cope with the crisis.
To see full details of the Guyana Drought Appeal please log on to the Caribbean Red Cross website www.caribredcross.org.