News

UN Optimistic About Meeting Tsunami Disaster Challenge

United Nations officials say the world is rising to the challenge of providing assistance to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. One-point-eight-million people are in need of food aid, a million of them in Indonesia.

One week after the tsunami struck, U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland says he's optimistic the world community can meet the enormous challenge of providing aid to victims.

He says the $2 billion in pledges of assistance from more than 40 countries is being boosted by a huge outpouring of generosity from non-governmental organizations and private individuals.

"The international system is working," he said. "The hundreds of relief organizations now involved are taking coordination, and they are looking to the United Nations system for overall coordination, and the Red Cross federation for all of the coordination within the Red Cross and Red Crescent system."

Mr. Egeland said the United Nations, in cooperation with the U.S. military, has set up a world-wide command center at a U.S. air base in Thailand to coordinate what he called the biggest humanitarian effort ever. As the relief effort enters its second week, he said, officials have a "pretty good" overview of total needs.

Mr. Egeland said relief could reach 700,000 victims in Sri Lanka within the next three days. But he said the overall estimate of victims has risen to 1.8 million, most in Indonesia.

He pinpointed the west Indonesian island of Sumatra as the main area where logistical bottlenecks still prevent aid from reaching the neediest victims.

"The challenge in Indonesia is in a class of its own, still. We are, however, making big progress," he said. "Now 50 aid groups are operating in Banda Aceh, which was the epicenter of catastrophe, together with other communities on the northern Sumatra coast, and in Aceh."

Mr. Egeland praised humanitarian groups, such as Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, that have launched massive operations to get water to people stranded in Banda Aceh.

He also noted the special contribution from countries, which have sent helicopters and heavy equipment to air drop aid to remote areas, where roads have been destroyed.

"Those helicopters now ferrying out relief to isolated villages on the Sumatra coast from the United States and from other partner countries, those helicopters are worth their weight in gold," he said.

U.N. officials say Secretary-General Kofi Annan will travel to the region later in the week. His first stop will be Jakarta for a meeting of several world leaders to discuss relief needs. He will then visit both Sumatra and Sri Lanka.

Mr. Annan told the U.S. ABC television program, This Week, Sunday, it could take up to 10 years for some countries to recover from the tsunami.

"It will differ from country to country, but my own sense is, you probably have five-to-10 years, and billions-of-dollars, because the devastation is enormous," he said.

Officials say Mr. Annan and other leaders will make a flash appeal for additional aid during their meeting in Jakarta this week. But the amount of that appeal is expected to be less than the $2 billion-plus already pledged.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs