Appeals raise €130,000 in three days for Beslan siege victims

THE organisers of two separate appeals for the people of Beslan have raised an extraordinary €130,000 in just three days.

To Russia with Love, a charity with huge experience working with orphans in the west of the country, has raised nearly €80,000 and UNICEF Ireland has raised almost 50,000 since they both launched their appeals on Monday.

In addition, UNICEF Ireland has pledged another €100,000 from its normal budget to help the victims of the school massacre that left 330 people dead, half of them children. More than 700 people were injured and 116 remain unidentified.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has asked organisers of sporting events to observe a minute’s silence this weekend in memory of the victims of the Beslan siege.

As Mr Ahern signed a book of condolences at the Russian embassy in Dublin, he urged people to take time out for a period of reflection or prayer in memory of the victims.

Christy Dignam, whose band Aslan sang their hit Crazy World in memory of the siege victims, at last Saturday’s free concert in the Phoenix Park, wants to re-release the record, with all proceeds going to help the people of Beslan.

Offers of money have come pouring in since the To Russia with Love organisation launched its appeal earlier this week.

The Dublin-based group has also been contacted by runners in next week’s Cork Mini Marathon who have pledged they will use the run to raise money and awareness for the appeal and the people of Beslan.

The marathon will include a team of 12 and another of four.

“We are absolutely delighted at the response. There has been a huge volume of calls, especially from Cork,” said Nicola Corrigan, who added that €77,506 had been pledged up to yesterday evening.

Ms Corrigan praised Irish Examiner readers for their generosity.

“They are incredible people. We could not have imagined it. The response generated has just been incredible.”

Founder Debbie Deegan flew out to Russia yesterday for meetings with various groups on the best way to use the funds.

Among those she will meet are members of a Russia-based international foundation for child victims of catastrophe and war.

Julianne Savage, of UNICEF Ireland, described the response to her group’s appeal as phenomenal.

A joint WHO/UNICEF medical needs assessment has just been completed in the area of the tragedy. The team visited three hospitals in Vladikavkaz and one hospital in Beslan.

Medical equipment is still urgently needed in all four hospitals. The assessment found that the most critical shortages of medical items would occur within the next three to five days.

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