Massive Effort to Deliver Tsunami Aid Having Mixed Success

Across south Asia, the massive effort to get humanitarian aid to the millions of people affected by last week's killer tsunami is having mixed success. In some cases, the aid is already more than enough, while in other countries, relief workers as well as survivors say the devastation in some regions is complicating efforts to reach those in dire need.

For Thailand, it's no longer aid that's needed, but faster ways of distributing it.

"We don't need any financial assistance. We need technical assistance," said Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

With donors from around the world now having pledged more than two billion dollars in aid, the prime minister instead wants more help with the massive job of recovering the dead.

"We still need to search for more corpses which are still missing," he said.

Indonesia, by far, has been hardest hit, with nearly 100,000 people believed to have perished in the earthquake and tsunami.

"The aid that is coming in is sufficient but the difficulty is to reach all the people because many of them are living in very remote places and distributing aid in remote places where the seashore may have been seriously damaged by the tsunami is going to be a logistical nightmare," said Michael Elmquist, the U.N. relief coordinator in Indonesia.

Correspondents in Indonesia's hardest hit area, the town of Banda Aceh on the Sumatran coast, speak of entire regions where remote villagers - eight days after the earthquake and the wall of water struck - still have not received any aid.

"As we spend more and more time with the families and the victims of this disaster, the scale of the catastrophe at the real personal level is just beginning to become clear," said Nigel Pont of the aid group Mercy Corps.

Much of the devastated area remains off limits to vehicles because of the incredible amount of damage and debris, leaving it up to cargo planes and helicopters to drop aid from the air. Thousands of American Marines and sailors on several warships are either in the region or on the way there.

The situation is similar in Sri Lanka where rescue efforts overland are hindered because of the vast destruction along much of the island's coast.

"The country, the road along the coast from Colombo south all the way around the tip of the island, all the way up to Trincomalee is washed away in many places, a number of bridges are destroyed," said Jeffrey Lunstead, the U.S. ambassador in Sri Lanka. "Those all have to be rebuilt so things can move and people can get back to their livelihood."

George Bush, with former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
With flags flying at half-mast in Washington in memory of the victims, President Bush Monday enlisted his father, the former President Bush as well as former president Bill Clinton to lead a nationwide drive to raise contributions to private charities involved in the relief effort.

"I ask every American to contribute, as they are able to do so," the president said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Bangkok Monday night along with the president's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to get a first hand assessment of the situation, and to demonstrate the American commitment to the region's recovery.

President Bush had faced criticism for not speaking out immediately after the December 26 disaster and for the initial U.S. aid contribution of just $35 million. That amount has since been increased to $350 million and Congress is expected to approve more in the days ahead.


This forum has been closed.
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.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs