Saudi tsunami telethon nets $67m

A national telethon in Saudi Arabia has raised $67.4 million to help Southeast Asian tsunami victims.

    Saudis drop money into collection boxes for the tsunami telethon

    Many people streamed into a stadium to load bundles of clothes into trucks and stuff glass boxes with cash on Thursday.

     

    King Fahad donated $5.3 million and Crown Prince Abd Allah donated $1.3 million, according to Saudi television.

     

    During the broadcast, state TV alternated between scenes of Saudis coming to the stadium to make their donations in person and images from the destruction and suffering areas stricken by the tsunami.

     

    Massive response

     

    Diamond and gold jewellery, as well as clothes, tents and blankets were part of the donations. Individual donations ranged from $1 to $133,000.

     

    A car and a student's daily allowance were also among the contributions shown on television.

     

    A Saudi telethon in 2003 to raise money for Iraqis affected by the US-led war and one in 2002 for Palestinians each raised tens of millions of dollars.

     

    A day earlier, the official Saudi Press Agency reported the government was raising its initial tsunami aid pledge of $10 million to $30 million "in view of the recent assessments of the magnitude of the tragedy".

     

    On Thursday, Aljazeera publicised a fund-raising campaign it launched a day earlier, in cooperation with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

     

    Aljazeera's role was to urge viewers to donate and advertise a bank account where money for the victims could be donated.

     

    "We care to mobilise viewers around the crisis, more than we are concerned about how much we collect," said Aymen Gaballah, deputy editor-in-chief.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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