Tsunami aid groups say assistance will last years

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2005, BERLIN - Almost a year after the tsunami which devastated coastal areas around the Indian Ocean, nations affected will long be dependent on aid, with the rebuilding of the region taking another three to five years, German aid organisations said Tuesday.

20 December 2005

BERLIN - Almost a year after the tsunami which devastated coastal areas around the Indian Ocean, nations affected will long be dependent on aid, with the rebuilding of the region taking another three to five years, German aid organisations said Tuesday.

"The readiness to help was greater than ever. But many lives could have been saved if better disaster precaution measures had been in place," said German Red Cross President Rudolf Seiters.

He was speaking at a press conference called by the major German aid groups to review the 12 months since the catastrophe, which left more than 200,000 people dead or missing in a dozen countries.

One year later 15 Germans are still missing as a result of the disaster which claimed the lives of 537 Germans, most of them holidaymakers. Germany's Caritas, Diakonie, UNICEF joined the German Red Cross at Tuesday's press conference.

Seiters called on governments around the world to be more flexible in the future in dealing with money needed for disasters such as the Asian tsunami.

The aid organizations also demanded that measures needed to be taken to strengthen professional emergency help and to step up the long-term fight against poverty.

"The experience shows that disasters involving poverty are particularly catastrophic", said Peter Neher, president of the German Caritas association.

Altogether Germans donated 670 million euros (796 million dollars) to help with aid for the tsunami victims. This was one of the largest national donations.

The bulk of the funds, however, has already been spent or included in spending plans, the aid groups said.

"No child died in the areas hit by the tsunami as a result of an epidemic or lack of nutrition," said Unicef's Dietrich Garlichs.

"Nearly all the children today go to school again and the basic supplies for hundreds of thousands of humans are being maintained", Garlichs said. But he said a major effort was still needed for reconstruction.

The aid organzations also expressed concern that the enormous readiness on the part of people to help the tsunami victims had meant that donations had been smaller for other major disasters.

"Hurricane Stan which resulted in dramatic landslides in Central America is the forgotten disaster of the year" said Cornelia Fuellkrug-Weitzel of Diakonie.

Indeed, the world also had to cope last year with a series of disasters including Hurricane Katrina and the devastating earthquake in Pakistan.

"That was too much for the purse and too much for the heart", said Fuellkrug Weitzel.

As a result, the aid groups believe that humanitarian help must be organised on a more flexible basis and not driven by major emergencies.

DPA

Subject: German news

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