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Germany

World-wide Wave of Support For Flood-stricken Germany

Even as devastating floods ravage Germany, a flood of another kind is inundating the country - namely financial donations to help the victims, with some of it from as far away as Africa and Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka is sending tonnes of soothing tea for exhausted emergency workers such as this firefighter in Dresden

An immense wave of financial support and solidarity is sweeping through Germany, as citizens all over the country donate money and goods to ease the anguish of the victims who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the floods.

Despite the catastrophic disaster, the country is witnessing an unprecedented outpouring of generosity and empathy as people and politicians from across the spectrum rally together to help the battered east back on its feet.

Overwhelmingly high amount of donations

Aid organisations in Germany are already speaking of "record donations", with the German Red Cross having collected the lion’s share of some 51 million euro .

German Federal Labour Minister Walter Riester is reported to have announced that those who donate their overtime wages to the flood victims, would be exempted from paying taxes or social security on the amount.

"There’s a wave of solidarity in the corporate companies. We want to support that", he told the Bild newspaper.

Experts have put down the astonishingly high amount of donations – over 100 million euro – to consistent calls by the German media in their programmes and reporting for people to donate money.

The cause is believed to be further helped by donations by prominent personalities such as Formula One racer Michael Schumacher who has given a million euro to the victims. Even political parties have cut down their election campaigning budgets to divert aid to the flood fund.

Aid pouring in from unexpected quarters

But while the high level of support from within the country has heartened morale, what has come as a surprise to many is the amount of help and financial aid pouring in from abroad and not just from exactly wealthy countries.

Benefit concerts are being given by musicians in Africa – in Mozambique and Angola, while the aid organisation "Misereor" in Burkina Faso has called upon citizens to donate for flood victims in far-away Germany.

Tea break for emergency workers

Interior Minister Otto Schily said earlier in the week that Germany had been inundated with offers of help from around the world, "Even a not exactly well-off country like Sri Lanka wants to stand by us and has sent tea for the emergency workers", he said.

The Latin American Bishop’s Council has sent some 10,000 dollars to the flood victims. Donations are being collected in Honduras as a show of solidarity with the Germans, who helped the destroyed country get back on its feet four years ago after it was hit by the hurricane Mitch.

Poland has sent much-needed sandbags and volunteers, while a group of holocaust survivors in Walbrzych or Waldburg have collected 550 euro. "We are following the devastation wrought by the floods in Germany with great concern", the group said in a statement.

Flood equipment from America and Russia

Generous donations and flood equipment are also coming in from America, Russia and other countries in Europe.

Ever since, the Herald Tribune paper posted a story on ist front page on the disaster in Dresden, help is pouring in from America.

British soldiers stationed in Germany are working side by side with German soldiers to help reinforce dykes, while Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once served in Dresden along with Soviet troops stationed in east Germany, has also sent two amphibious vehicles.

Foreigners in Germany eager to help

Even foreigners living within Germany are demonstrating their solidarity with their German citizens with contributions in money and kind.

Organisations like "Oroma Horn of Africa Centre", "Islamic Relief", the "Turkish Islamic Union of the Organisation for Religion" are collecting donations under the motto, "we belong to this country, we share the good times and the bad". A Turkish supermarket chain, "Birlikmarket" has sent trucks with fruit and drinking water to Magdeburg.

Soothing vacation on the beach

Once the worst is over and those affected by the floods return to a semblance of normality, they can look forward to some relaxing offers in Majorca and the Grand Canary Islands.

The government of the Grand Canary islands is offering 10-14 days of free relaxed vacation to 1000 affected children up to the age of 15 accompanied by an adult. The offer also stretches to voluntary emergency workers.

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