NEW YORK (Feb. 21)
The response of the American public to the dire need of the millions of people affected by the famine in sub-Saharan Africa has been “an expression of compassion and concern of all Americans, Jew and Gentile, white and Black, and has been a milestone in intercommunal relations,”according to Heinz Eppler, president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
According to JDC executive vice president Ralph Goldman, donations for Ethiopian Relief from more than 20,000 individuals, corporations, foundations and Jewish communities have amounted to $1.7 million in cash and $1.4 million in goods, totaling $3.1 million since the agency opened its mailbox for this purpose three months ago, on November 1.
Goldman said 86.5 tons of goods have been shipped including blankets, clothing, cloth, medicines and medical supplies. He noted that Alitalia Airlines is continuing its generous cooperation with JDC by donating air transport for vital supplies such as medicines on its flights from New York to Rome. Goldman said the supplies are then sent by air freight to Addis Ababa, where they are distributed “under JDC staff supervision.”
Goldman added that JDC has purchased two fourwheel drive vehicles to facilitate the distribution of medical supplies in the Gondar region. “The fact that many of the villagers of the area are a one or two-day walk from the nearest dirt roads continues to be a major logistical obstacle to relief distribution,” he said.
Eppler lauded the efforts of the many individuals across America “who have taken the initiative in bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to help the people in Ethiopia.” He specifically mentioned New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, whose telethon raised $220,000 which was shared by the Catholic Relief Services, Church World Service (Protestant) and the JDC.
“The response from American Jews, “he added, ” has also been heartening. Contributions have come from old and young. Small children have sent their pocket money and poor, elderly Jews have pooled the little they have to contribute.”Goldman cited a recent report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization to the effect that the famine in Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan countries is expected to continue through 1985. The report estimates the number of people affected as between 7.5 and 10 million.