Spanish tsunami relief troops bid farewell
17 March 2005, BANDA ACEH, Indonesia- A Spanish military team helping disaster survivors in tsunami-ravaged Aceh were preparing to bid farewell to the region ahead of a deadline for foreign troop withdrawal.
17 March 2005
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia- A Spanish military team helping disaster survivors in tsunami-ravaged Aceh were preparing to bid farewell to the region ahead of a deadline for foreign troop withdrawal.
Officers from a 250-strong team of Spanish military engineers were due to leave later on Thursday, although a Spanish naval vessel, the Galicia, and its crew of 300 will not depart until 23 March.
Thousands of foreign troops, led by the United States which sent a battle fleet, poured into the Indonesian province in the wake of the 26 December disaster that left 126,400 dead and more than 93,800 missing in Aceh alone.
But Indonesia's government has indicated it wants foreign armed forces to leave before 26 March, marking the end of three months of emergency relief.
Prior to the tsunami, Aceh was sealed off to foreigners as the government pursued a major offensive against separatist rebels who have been fighting for decades for control of the resource-rich province.
The withdrawal deadline, which will also see the introduction of new regulations on access, has alarmed some relief organisations who fear restrictions may hamper efforts to help many still in need of assistance.
Earlier this week, the US withdrew the last of its personnel with the pullout out of the USNS Mercy, a 1,000-bed navy hospital ship. Japan and Australia have also recalled their contingents.
A Pakistani military deployment is expected to return home on 20 March, while a group of Mexican personnel involved in retrieving bodies is due to head out prior to 26 March.
A group of Malaysian troops is, however, expected to remain beyond the three month mark.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news