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Telethon success

January 20, 2010

A German TV benefit gala broadcast on Tuesday raised 17.8 million euros ($25.2 million) for Haiti's earthquake victims. Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced the government would contribute an extra 2.5 million euros.

German Red Cross warehouse
The German Red Cross is among the organizations that will receive money from the benefitImage: AP

The special TV event for Haiti, organized by the German public broadcaster ZDF and newspaper Bild, proved a success, raising nearly 18 million euros for the devastated country by the end of the broadcast.

Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared at the beginning of the show to announce that the government would increase its immediate contribution to the United Nations World Food Program in Haiti from 7.5 million euros to 10 million euros. Merkel also promised that Germany would honor its long-term responsibilities and help to rebuild Haiti.

Haitian ambassador Jean-Robert Saget
The Haitian ambassador, left, appeared on the showImage: AP

The Haitian ambassador in Berlin Jean-Robert Saget also spoke during the show, expressing gratitude for the donations. He told viewers that last week's earthquake had hit the country just as it was achieving stability. "This has thrown us back by years," Saget said.

Celebrity contributions

A number of celebrities took part in the benefit, including pop singers Chris de Burgh, Sarah Connor, and Marius Mueller-Westernhagen, boxer Vitali Klitschko and the captain of the German national football team Michael Ballack. The team donated 150,000 euros, Ballack announced.

A benefit soccer match has also been organized between two of Germany's biggest clubs, Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg. The clubs' sponsors have already guaranteed a donation of one million euros.

The money raised by last night's TV event will be given to various German relief organizations, including the German Red Cross, Caritas, Diakonie, World Hunger Aid, and Ein Herz fuer Kinder (A Heart for Children).

Merkel also announced that the process for writing charity donations off against tax would be as unbureaucratic as possible. "As for the tsunami, the donation tax statements will be as simple as possible," she said. "A proof of payment or a bank account statement will be enough to write the donation off, irrespective of how much it is."

Editor: Rob Turner

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