Urgent task to stabilize people's lives in flood-hit areas

The recent flooding in seven central provinces of Vietnam has inflicted widespread losses of lives and property, production and infrastructure. At least, 592 people were killed and 24 left missing. Thua Thien-Hue province was the hardest hit province. In that province 351 people died, 24 went missing and 250 others were injured. Floods have severely affected over 670,000 households of which 15,000 have had to move to other places. About 1.6 million people are homeless and relying on relief supply.

The flood has receded and the most critical stage is over, but the damage is so extensive that it will take long time to repair.

The Government of Vietnam discussed on urgent measures to effectively overcome the aftermath of the floods at a special Government conference in Hue on Nov. 15.

The draft decision said that the Government will reserve soft-interest bank loans worth VND 500 billion to farmers in the seven flood- ravaged provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh to restore farms and other businesses. Meanwhile, the Government has planned to either reschedule or write off flood victims' debts both those of individuals and organizations. It also planned to provide an additional 33,000 tonnes of food to victims of the recent floods that within only six days destroyed almost everything in Viet Nam's central region. The Government is considering agricultural land-use tax exemption for households in the flood-stricken region.

Earlier Prime Minister Phan Van Khai issued decisions granting 8,600 tonnes of rice, 360 tonnes of instant noodles and 100,000 sets of clothes to those provinces.

Both the local and central governments, have launched what has been described as the most successful relief operations ever with combined military and civilian efforts.

Rescue forces saved over 600 lives, evacuated 280,000 people, and delivered food to more than 1 million victims marooned or isolated on hill tops, house roofs and trees.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai told local authorities and relevant ministries to take special care of the most vulnerable groups -- the elderly, social allowance beneficiaries, poor households and those seriously affected by floods.

He ordered local administration and relevant branches to provide effective assistance to natural disaster victims to rebuild temporary shelters in the immediate future and concrete houses in the long run.

The construction of more solid hospitals and schools is part of a long-term vision to make the central coastal population more secure against floods.

Another measure is to speed up the construction of a tunnel through Hai Van Pass and a new Trans-Viet Nam highway.

Aid is kept coming to flood victims from nationwide as well as from world community. So far, Vietnamese people donated $3,6 million and 1,228 tons of food and clothing. Apart from that, Vietnam has received enormous foreign aid .

International Red Cross had provided 3 millions. The Japanese government has donated US $80,000; the Dutch government, US $50,000; UNICEF, US$ 31,000;. Fourteen non-governmental organizations had decided to donate more than USD 600,000 and 16 tons of wheat flour. The German Government has granted USD 270,000 to people in the said flood-stricken central provinces through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and Germany's non-government organizations. Two U.S Air Force C-130 transport planes touched down in Hue on Nov. 11 with 40 tons of urgently need materials such as blankets and plastic sheeting what are part of a US donation worth $690,000 so far. US Ambassador to Vietnam Peter Peterson had witnessed the unloading the relief supplies and said he expected to get more money to Vietnam soon.

Australia will contribute about 1 million Australian dollars to help Vietnam overcome the consequences of record floods in the central provinces of Vietnam, said the Australian foreign minister on November 13.

The Switzerland Government contributes $ 61,000 and the Government of Denmark will channel $145,000 through Red Cross and Red Croissant.

The Italian foreign ministry will give about US $538,000 to help flood victims, according to a statement by the Italian Embassy in Hanoi on November 15.

The United Nations has committed to providing an initial aid package of US $600,000 to help the flood victims in Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson of Vietnam said on Nov. 10 that Vietnam thanks the international community for the close attention and the recent assistance by many countries, organizations and individuals given to the people in the flood-affected areas and hopes that countries, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, foreign individuals and overseas Vietnamese community would continue assisting the people in the stricken provinces in order to enable them to quickly overcome consequences and restore normal life.

Embassy of Vietnam in Washington has also appealed to Vietnamese people, Vietnamese overseas and people, charitable organizations in USA to extent their help to the flood victims. Many people among them a lot of Vietnamese overseas, students and American friends have resonated with their invaluable donations. Many have sent money directly to Red Cross in Vietnam or to Embassy's fund for flood victims or made a donation online for Embassy fund raising campaign.

We are very much appreciated and deeply touched with genuine concern and compassion shown by donators toward flood victims.

Our fund raising campaign is still open to donation. Money can be sent to Embassy of Vietnam, 1233 20 th St. N. W, Suite 400, Washington DC 20036 or Web site: http://www.vietnamembassy-usa.org ( Make a donation online)

We are grateful for contributions given to people who are suffering from that terrible flood.