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UN Official: Repairing Tsunami Damage Could Take 10 Years

The United Nations' emergency relief coordinator says it will take as long as 10 years to rebuild from the Asian Tsunami, despite the historic scale of the relief effort.

The meeting in Luxembourg, was held to assess relief efforts six months after the disaster. U.N. Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said the reconstruction phase is now getting under way, and much work remains to be done.

"It took between five and 10 seconds to destroy thousands of communities, five to 10 seconds to wipe away 225,000 people," Mr. Egeland said. "It will take five to 10 years to rebuild all that was lost. We are in for a very long haul."

He said reconstruction must not be handled too quickly, or too slowly. He warned against building things too quickly that will have to be torn down later, because they are put in the wrong place, of the wrong quality, and built without consulting local communities and government.

He also said there is danger in slow movement, because some people sitting in emergency shelters have had their basic needs met, and now want to get on with their lives.

He also stressed that the financial outpouring from the International community has been unprecedented.

"Altogether, around $11 billion have been contributed, pledged or committed to assistance and rebuilding to the Tsunami affected countries," he said. "I can recall no other effort like this. No other demonstration of compassion ever."

Mr. Egeland said the United Nations has created an internet system of financial tracking to show where the money is going. Now, it covers U.N. money, but it is being linked to other organizations.

The European Union said it and its member states have pledged more than $2.7 billion (2.3 billion euros) in aid for this year and following years.

The EU said large amounts of money have been spent on humanitarian aid, but only a small percentage for reconstruction.