Charity rugby international raises nearly $3.35 million for UN tsunami relief

22 March 2005

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received its largest single donation ever from a sporting event – nearly $3.35 million from a fundraising rugby game between the northern and southern hemispheres held earlier this month at Twickenham, England, to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has received its largest single donation ever from a sporting event – nearly $3.35 million from a fundraising rugby game between the northern and southern hemispheres held earlier this month at Twickenham, England, to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

“Although the southern hemisphere team ran out as victors, ultimately it was WFP and the people we are helping in Asia who are the real winners,” WFP Deputy Executive Director John Powell said at a weekend ceremony in Hong Kong before the final of the Rugby World Cup Sevens at which the International Rugby Board (IRB) handed over a cheque for $3,349,943.

More than 40,000 people gathered at Twickenham to watch the match on 5 March, while millions of others saw it live on television in more than a dozen countries across the world. Ticket sales, hospitality and donations received through telephone hotlines, online mechanisms and mobile phone texting agreements helped to account for the final sum raised.

For WFP, “Rugby Aid” achieved two vitally important things: it reminded supporters at Twickenham and the global television audience of millions that the problems in Asia are still far from over and it also raised funds for long-term reconstruction of areas that were worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 200,000 people in a dozen countries in December.

The sheer scale of the devastation, in which up to 5 million people were left in need of basic services, means that humanitarian operations, especially in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, are likely to continue not just for weeks, or even months, but probably years.

 

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