World gives USD 4bn to tsunami victims

6th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

6 January 2005 , NEW YORK - The tsunamis that devastated Indian Ocean countries have triggered an outpouring of worldwide generosity, resulting in pledges close to USD 4 billion (EUR 3.02 billion), the UN emergency humanitarian coordinator said. Jan Egeland said at a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York that the generosity in a short span of 10 days was unprecedented. After he spoke, the total went up substantially with the International Monetary Fund announcing that it would provide about USD one

6 January 2005

NEW YORK - The tsunamis that devastated Indian Ocean countries have triggered an outpouring of worldwide generosity, resulting in pledges close to USD 4 billion (EUR 3.02 billion), the UN emergency humanitarian coordinator said.

Jan Egeland said at a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York that the generosity in a short span of 10 days was unprecedented.

After he spoke, the total went up substantially with the International Monetary Fund announcing that it would provide about USD one billion in emergency relief.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced Thursday that the European Union would provide a further USD 134 million in immediate aid to tsunami affected countries.

Barroso also told a press conference on the sidelines of an emergency aid summit of world leaders in Jakarta that the EU would seek to provide an additional USD 1.33 billion  long-term loan to assist tsunami-devastated nations with relief and reconstruction efforts.


"This shows that the world is coming together in a manner not seen before," Egeland said, but added that the pledges came from a group of countries considered traditional donors to humanitarian programmes while 30 to 40 affluent countries had given "little".

To Australia, Germany and Japan, which were the top donors, Egeland said, "Thank you for helping. Thank you for being with us."

Egeland also praised Asian governments for quickly setting up a clear line of command, both civilian and military, to deal effectively with the disaster.

Australia alone pledged USD 750 million dollars, followed by Germany with USD 664 million and Japan with USD 500 million.

The United States - in addition to providing logistics, ground troops and USD 350 million  in aid - was providing half the fleet of 100 helicopters that the United Nations is using to send emergency supplies to the tens of thousands of people who survived the December 26 earthquake off Sumatra and the resulting tsunamis that hit 12 Indian Ocean countries. More than 150,000 people were killed from Indonesia to Somalia.

France pledged USD 103 million, Britain 94 million, Sweden 74 million, Canada 67 million, China 63 million, Denmark 55 million and the Netherlands 32 million.

Australia, a neighbour of Indonesia, at first pledged USD 32 million but on Wednesday upped it to USD 750 million.

Egeland said the United States and Britain on Wednesday promised to lend C-17 cargo planes, the world's largest, for the transport of supplies to the 12 countries.

Singapore worked in the past 24 hours to reopen landing strips in Banda Aceh at the tip of Indonesia's Aceh province, which was the hardest-hit area in the magnitude-9 quake off Sumatra and the resulting tsunamis. Singapore also promised to provide heavy earth- moving equipment, helicopters and landing craft.

"We are making progress every hour" in bringing relief supplies to the tsunami victims, Egeland said.

Indonesia, which suffered more than 90,000 dead, agreed to immediately open an operation centre in Jakarta and work with the United Nations to respond effectively in the humanitarian disaster, Egeland said.

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were to meet in Jakarta on Thursday with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to launch an appeal for funds to cover humanitarian requirements in the next six months. Those requirements included emergency needs for the up to 5 million people made homeless by the tsunamis, agricultural requirements, health care, water needs and sanitation.

The pledges by governments, the World Bank and Asian Bank cover the appeal to be issued at the Jakarta meeting. But the United Nations said it would need those pledges transformed into cash immediately to cover emergency supplies.

The latest aid pledges came after United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the gathering in Jakarta that Asia could be hit by a second wave of deaths, but this time from preventable causes.

"We do know at least half-a-million were injured, that nearly two million need food aid and that many more need water sanitation and health care," he said. "We have a duty to the survivors to stop the tsunami from being followed by a second wave of death this time from preventable causes," he said.

"The goodwill and concern around the world are enormous, so are the challenges facing us. There are daunting logistical constraints but they are not insurmountable," he told the gathering.

Annan echoed earlier comments from Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono calling for creation an early warning system. "We must also draw and act on every lesson we can to prevent this occurring in the future," he said.

Yudhoyono had called for an unprecedented response to the Asian Tsunami in his opening address to a one-day emergency summit in Jakarta. "What the victims went through beggars the imagination," he said. "This tragedy has been a humbling experience, it proves no nation can survive alone," Yudhoyono told the gathering.

He called on all of the countries present at the meeting to meet the combined cost of the catastrophe. "Our response to this unprecedented catastrophe must be equally unprecedented so that we immediately put an end to the human suffering and misery that came later," he said.

The one-day emergency summit is an attempt to coordinate the massive aid effort for tsunami-hit countries, with more than 20 leaders from donor and affected countries and international organizations attending.

Among the highest profile delegates are Annan, World Bank President James Wolfensohn and US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Country leaders at the conference include the prime ministers of Japan, China, Australia and South Korea.

Thailand's Foreign Minister, Surakiart Sathirathai proposed that his country host a regional early warning system to limit the damage in future disasters.

"At the regional level early warning is the key to disaster prevention," he told the meeting. "We are prepared to go ahead on this issue by ourselves if necessary, but we would prefer coordinated action on a regional basis.

"I propose that the Asia Disaster Prevention centre in Thailand be enlarged and utilized as a focal point to develop such a regional early warning system," he said.

Heads of charities and aid agencies from all over the world are also in attendance to discuss ways to ensure that aid is distributed as efficiently as possible.

"One of our hopes (from the conference) is even greater coordination and cooperation that are or will be offering assistance," Dave Toyten, chief executive of international Christian charity World Vision, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"In many ways the biggest challenge is logistical. The greatest frustration is not being able to get supplies to areas where they are needed."

The conference was proposed by Singapore and was organized by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional grouping of Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Myamar's (Burma's) Prime Minister Soe Win sought to play down news reports that the country may have been harder hit than government officials have admitted. He said the country has recorded only 59 deaths, three missing and 43 injured from the giant wave.

"The situation in our country is manageable and we are doing our best to alleviate the plight of our people. We welcome the help and assistance that has been provided," Win told the meeting.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article