Aid to Russia

November 27, 1998, 08:00 CET

Needy children in Russia are to receive NOK 1.5 million in assistance from Statoil.

NOK 500,000 is being donated to provide fuel for Red Cross lorries, and the remaining NOK 1 million will be spent on food parcels for a primary school in the northern port of Murmansk.

The decision to award these funds was taken earlier this week by the management team for Statoil's international operations. They form part of the programme of social support for local communities in which the group has a commercial presence.

"This is very gratifying," says Torbjørn Lindseth, project manager for the humanitarian aid programme in north-western Russia.

He reports that an investigation two months ago at School 37 in Murmansk showed only 15 out of 50 pupils examined were in good health. The rest were suffering from malnutrition and deficiency diseases as a result of widespread unemployment, poverty and alcoholism.

"Distributing food is very important for sickness absence and for educational conditions in the school," Mr Lindseth reports.

The food parcels will be produced from Russian produce by workers at a local fish processing plant.

This project is a collaboration between Statoil, the Red Cross and the Tromsø-Murmansk Project. The latter initiative has been taken by the local council in the north Norwegian port of Tromsø, which is twinned with the Russian city.

Mr Lindseth is also in a dialogue with Statoil's unions over voluntary deductions from pay to support the aid project. Additional funding will be used to expand the programme to other schools in the area.