Muslims and Mormons flying aid to Southern Asia

SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 70 tons of medical supplies, hygiene kits, clothing and shoes will be flown to Indonesia to aid tsunami disaster victims in a partnership effort by Islamic Relief Worldwide and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A chartered MD-11 cargo plane is being loaded today in Salt Lake City for a New Year's Day flight to Medan on the island of Sumatra in northern Indonesia. Islamic Relief Worldwide is paying the shipping costs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is providing 143,000 pounds of in-kind aid. Distribution in the disaster area will be directed by both organizations.

This joint effort continues a partnership between Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Church that began in the summer of 2003 with a shipment of aid to the long-suffering people of Iraq. Other joint shipments have included aid for flood victims in Bangladesh and for those suffering in the current crisis in Sudan.

Islamic Relief USA President and CEO Mr. Ahmad El Bendary joined Bishop Richard C. Edgley, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, in overseeing the load-out of the shipment at the Salt Lake International Airport.

This joint shipment is part of a four-pronged response by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to relieve suffering in southern Asia. The first priority is accurate assessment to match resources to needs. Secondly, immediate needs are being met by in-country purchases and air shipments of urgently needed supplies. A third prong of response will be to send containers of follow-up supplies by ship and other surface transportation. The fourth area of Church response will be to address long-term needs.