IFRC to set up Japan relief fund collection

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The Red Cross said Wednesday that it was setting up a mechanism to collect cash to fund humanitarian efforts following Japan's massive earthquake and tsunami.

"The Japanese Red Cross appreciates a lot the international solidarity that is starting to pour in," said Matthias Schmale, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' under secretary general on programme services.

"Their preference is for cash donations to be given either directly to the Japanese Red Cross or to the International Federation. We are setting up a mechanism to facilitate that process," he added.

However the IFRC is not making a formal appeal as initial expressions of generosity already appear fairly substantial.

"Our anticipation is that there will be quite a bit of money collected which will be a good and solid basis to address early recovery needs," said Schmale.

Beyond cash offers, the local Red Cross is also currently not taking up international offers of relief aid as "there are lots of capacity on the ground to deal with" the situation at the moment.

"We are trying to be very clear with our partners and our own network that we should not ... rush in, without any clear information on what needs there are and what kinds of support may be needed," said Schmale.

The Japanese Red Cross has dispatched some 115 teams to the ground, although they are not working in the exclusion zone surrounding the failed Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Schmale acknowledged that the nuclear situation was a key concern for the relief agency, but he called on the population to "stay calm".

"Panicky messages help no one... we want to stay calm and remain facts-based," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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