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UN to Donors: Deliver on Aid Promises to Tsunami-hit Countries


Indonesia, which bore the brunt of December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean, has

Kim Hak Su, executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commissions for Asia and the Pacific
begun allocating millions of dollars in aid funds for recovery projects. On Monday, at a meeting in Bangkok, a top U.N. official called on international donors to make good on their pledges of assistance to Indonesia and other countries ravaged by the tsunami.

The U.N. official, Kim Hak Su, urged contributing nations and international aid donors to stand by commitments of assistance to tsunami-hit countries. If they do not, he said, there is a risk the economic recovery of countries hit by the disaster could be undermined.

Mr. Kim is the executive secretary for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. He told the commission's annual meeting, reconstruction costs for the region are set to reach up to $13 billion over the next five years, but, so far, donor commitments have been falling short.

Mr. Kim said only about $2.5 billion has been officially committed or paid up of the $6.7 billion that were originally pledged.

The December 26 tsunami claimed the lives of more 180,000 people, with thousands still missing. The wave surge swept across the Indian Ocean basin, affecting 12 countries.

Indonesia's Aceh province was hardest hit with about 120,000 dead, while in Sri Lanka more than 30,000 died.

Because of concerns the money may be misused, Indonesia has had to assure donors the billions of dollars of assistance will be closely monitored.

The minister for national development planning, Sri Mulyani Indreawati, told the Bangkok meeting the government is using an Internet Web site "e-Aceh.org" to provide details on the assistance program.

"With the full program and system, we try to establish, including establishing the e-Aceh, for us to be more transparent, more timely and also more accountable for everybody to clear their information and know what's going on, how much money and by whom the activity is conducted," she said.

Earlier this month Indonesia signed an agreement that will enable agencies to begin rebuilding projects.

The International Red Cross has agreed to give $600 million to build thousands of homes, as well as clinics and schools.

Critics say assistance has been slow to reach the needy. But Mrs. Mulyani disagrees.

"Overall, I would say that this is more timely, rather than too late or too fast, because everything works to [a] sequence," she said. "We still need to consult with the people. At the same time, we build the capacity and establish the institutions, so all those things are in place so we are really [ready] to do the job now."

But aid workers in the region acknowledge that, for many of the hardest-hit survivors, it may be still months or longer before they will begin to see any real impact from the assistance.

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