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Record donations to Swedish disaster funds

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11:34 CET+01:00

Swedes have reacted quickly to the catastrophe in Asia. Money is pouring in to help organizations at a record rate.

"In two days we have received two million crowns over the Internet, which is five times more than what we would normally get in a year," said Johan af Donner from the Red Cross.

According to Dagens Nyheter, volunteers are going to the Red Cross office in Hornsgatan in Stockholm and offering to help with money collection to help the victims of the tsunami.

"It is not unusual for people to donate 500 crowns, even 1,000 crowns in our money-boxes," said Anna Langer, who also works for the Red Cross.

The charity's representatives in Sri Lanka are already making use of the money donated.

"We have already established 66 temporary camps in Sri Lanka, giving 40,000 people a roof over their heads. Ten camps with doctors are functioning in the region together with basic medical care for 120,000 people," said Johan af Donner.

Plan Sweden said that it has had an "incredible reaction" from the public. It has 80,000 'godparents', people who donate money to support a named child, many of whom are in the area devastated by Sunday's tsunami. The organization is concentrated their efforts in Sri Lanka.

Another organization active since the 70s in Sri Lanka is IOGT-NTO. It has added 300,000 crowns collected in donations to the two million already granted as disaster fund.

"The needs are immeasurable. We will start by donating food, tents and medical supplies so that later we can concentrate on the reconstruction," said Sven-Olof Carlsson, chairman IOGT-NTO.

Other help organizations such as Diakonia, Läkare utan gränser (Médecins Sans Frontières) and Rädda Barnen (Save the Children) are also raising funds.

Swedish companies are also doing their bit. Everything from medical supplies, food, blankets, clothes and toys are being donated. Some have also contacted the Red Cross, asking what they can do to help. Johan af Donner has a straight answer:

"We want as much money as we can get."

In the last couple of days, companies have donated 6 million crowns to the Red Cross.

"We are donating 3,5 million crowns to the victims of this catastrophe in Asia," said Staffan Ternby, information chief for Astra Zeneca.

Companies are also helping their employees internally in the form of psychiatric and medical help. Svenska Dagbladet reported that the first step companies are taking is establishing the number of employees that were spending their vacation in the countries affected. Some have already managed to contact most of the workers.

"What we are doing - and began doing as soon as the disaster hit - is going through all departments and contacting employees throughout the country. We've created crisis-groups and are ready to help those that have been affected," Nordea's Boo Ehlin told SvD.

Scania is doing the same, and has managed to get in contact with almost all its employees who were in the area.

Mobile companies are also contributing with free calls from Asia. Tele2 Comviq's customers are calling to and from Sweden for free until the 3rd of January. Vodafone and Telia have decided to offer their customers the same.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, Aftonbladet

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