The international assistance to victims of the two cyclones which have devastated parts of north-east and central Madagascar gathered pace on 16 March with the arrival of a 40-tonne donation from the Netherlands Red Cross. The consignment of non-food items including emergency medical kits, plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and water purification tablets will be delivered to about 50,000 people in 20 districts. "We aim to assist those people who have lost homes and belongings - as well as villages which have been cut off by the floods following the cyclones," said Pierre Lenoble of the Malagasy Red Cross. Working closely with the National Relief Council, the Malagasy Red Cross has already been giving out blankets and relief items from its own stocks. Supported by Federation delegates, an appeal is being launched to provide not only priority assistance, but also longer-term needs such as reconstruction materials, tools and seeds as well as disaster prevention activities. The French Red Cross is also providing support to the National Society in needs assessment and logistics. One of the main frustrations for humanitarian organizations currently working in Madagascar is the difficulty in delivering aid because so many roads and bridges have been destroyed. However, Red Cross volunteers in the affected areas have been contacting their headquarters, saying they are ready to carry food and basic items on their backs "through hell and high water" to reach those in real need.
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