ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) has joined the Pakistan Consulate in Chicago to urge individuals and groups who wish to send aid in the Asian earthquake relief effort to donate cash, as an alternative to gifts in kind and other commodities. Cash donations to recognized agencies will provide immediate and effective assistance to victims of the October 8 earthquake that was felt across northern Pakistan and the disputed region of Kashmir, as well as parts of India and Afghanistan. The earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale has claimed more than 40,000 lives to date in Pakistan alone, and left millions of people without electricity, food, clean water and shelter. Reports from relief officials compare the devastation to the 2004 tsunami. Poor weather and mountainous terrain have also delayed the huge aid effort as fears mount of a "second wave" of deaths from untreated injuries and exposure. Additionally, the arrival of winter weather signals that time is limited to help survivors, thus increasing the need for immediate relief. "This is a terrible tragedy, sadly reminiscent of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia last December," said Suzanne Brooks, Director of the CIDI in Arlington, Virginia. "In the days and months to come, it will be critical for relief workers to have the resources they need to respond quickly and effectively to victims' needs. While gifts in kind are appreciated, the fastest and best way to provide this assistance is through cash donations. With today's technology, a cash donation can reach a relief agency in seconds, enabling them to purchase exactly what is needed on the ground while avoiding duplication and oversupply of items that are not needed." Consul General Aitzaz Ahmed stated, "We are heartened by the generosity shown by the American people as well as the Pakistani community living in the United States. While we have transportation available through our national airline, the space is extremely limited. The space that we do have available will be used for priority items like tents that are urgently needed in Pakistan. For this reason, we encourage those interested in helping the victims of the earthquake to consider making monetary contributions to the President's Relief Fund to provide for the immediate and lone term needs of the Pakistani people affected by this deadly earthquake." An all day fund raiser is also being organized by the Consulate and the Pakistan-American Community at the Holiday Inn Skokie at 5300 Touhy Avenue Skokie, Illinois 60077 from 10 am to 10 pm on October 19, 2005. Individuals and organizations interested in making contributions to help the victims of the South Asian earthquake can get more information by accessing CIDI's Web site at http://www.cidi.org. In addition, interested donors can visit http://www.interaction.org to obtain a list of credible responding agencies for international emergencies, and http://www.bbb.com and http://www.give.org to get valuable information on making informed decisions when supporting charities. For those interested in donating to the President's Relief Fund, checks can be mailed to: 333 N Michigan Avenue #728, Chicago, Illinois 60601 (Bank Transfer: BANK ONE JP MORGAN CHASE BANK N.A. CHICAGO ILLINOIS 60670, Account number: 699516282, Routing Number:071000013, Swift Code: CHASUS33.) More information is also available on the Embassy of Pakistan's web site at http://www.embassyofpakistan.org/news162a.php . Since its inception in 1988, CIDI has worked with individuals, groups, embassies and corporations to provide information and guidance in support of appropriate international disaster relief. CIDI, operated under a grant from the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, works with a variety of partners to channel the public's energy and desire to help achieve maximum impact. By reaching out to the American public and the private sector, CIDI helps to promote activities and donations that will do the most good for disaster victims around the world. For more information about CIDI and helping international victims, log on to CIDI's Web site at http://www.cidi.org, or call the media hotline at 703-276-2942.
SOURCE Center for International Disaster Information