New Year’s Eve celebrations across Italy are being hastily changed, from traditional noisy and riotous affairs to quiet vigil like ceremonies, to show respect for the victims of the South East Asia Tsunami disaster. Here in Bologna, for example, the city council have cancelled all fireworks and are urging the public to follow suit.
The scale of the disaster is starting to hit home, and for once this column has a good word to say about Berlusconi, who has urged for an extraordinary meeting of the G8 to discuss ways that the world’s richest economies can help. Swift, decisive, and unified action is needed to confront the disaster. Hopefully Berlusconi, Blair and co. will back up grand gestures with concrete action, and financial support.
Fourteen Italians have to date been identified, while at least 700 remain missing. Figures have been bandied around in the press of up to 5,000 Italian holiday makers in the region, but as of yet official figures are as confused as those of the death toll in general.
Just as there remains confusion over the scale of the disaster, it seems there is no clear central international fund to direct donations to. In Italy, where we’re constantly bombarded by competing mobile phone network advertising, a fund has been set up in unison by the competing networks whereby you can send an sms donating a euro to a central Italian fund, without any administration costs being taken out of that euro. It seems emminently sensible, making it easy and cheap to donate to the disaster relief. For our part, we offer links below to a number of organisations working on aiding the victims of the disaster.