Greek organizations unite to help tsunami children

By Pikia Galati – Kathimerini With the aim of effectively coordinating Greece’s ongoing humanitarian aid efforts for victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, especially children, five of the country’s major local government associations and unions have established the Social Solidarity Network in association with the Greek committee of UNICEF. The presidents of the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the main civil servants’ union (ADEDY), the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), the Union of Prefectural Administrations of Greece (ENAE), and the Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives (PASEGES) decided to create the network earlier this week during a meeting with the president of the Greek committee of UNICEF, Lambros Kanellopoulos. EU mayors Meanwhile, a campaign launched by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis for European municipalities to «adopt» municipalities in Southeast Asia affected by the tsunami is to be elaborated tomorrow in Paris, where Bakoyannis is to meet with other European mayors. Bakoyannis is to ask the mayors to sign «adoption protocols» for municipalities where they will fund infrastructure development, with the chief focus on building hostels, hospitals and schools for children. Both the campaigns are aimed at helping children as more than 1.5 million of them are believed to have been affected by the tsunami. More than 100,000 children are believed to have lost both their parents following the disaster, according to Kanellopoulos. Meanwhile, in many Greek workplaces, a portion of employees’ salaries is being donated to UNICEF, a top GSEE official said. Also, teachers and doctors’ unions will be backing initiatives to create schools and hostels for children in Southeast Asia and to fund their vaccination, according to ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros. Other initiatives have been undertaken by agricultural cooperatives and other associations. But what they all have in common is to boost the work of UNICEF, KEDKE head Paris Koukoulopoulos said. The chief aims include: – the creation of hostels to protect orphans and abandoned children; – funding for the refurbishment of damaged schools and the construction of new educational institutions (more than 10,000 schools are believed to have been destroyed by the tsunami); – funding for rebuilding hospitals and medical centers; – securing the necessary medicines for treating sick children; – implementation of a program to vaccinate children.

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