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Discussion Starter #1
Please post any news articles and related links here.

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Indonesia Tries to Curb Child Trafficking

January 08, 2005 11:22 AM EST

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia said Saturday it was monitoring its borders to prevent child traffickers from smuggling young victims of the tsunami out of the country, and it will set up centers inside refugee camps to care for children and reunite them with their families.

The government and UNICEF also will establish centers to care for traumatized women, Minister of Women's Empowerment Meutia Hatta said.

UNICEF spokesman John Budd said the centers would provide health care and counseling for children and seek to reunite them with their families. Both women and children who have lost family members will be cared for at the centers.

"If a child is without parents and family, they are incredibly vulnerable," Budd said.

Twenty centers staffed by about 380 trained volunteers will be set up in hard-hit Aceh province, Meutia said.

"The volunteers' duty is to restore the self-confidence of women and children," Meutia said. "There are plenty of women feeling empty and who keep crying because they lost their families."

There have been sporadic reports of attempted child trafficking in Indonesia since the Dec. 26 earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a deadly tsunami, but police say there have been no confirmed cases.

Authorities believe as many as 30,000 children are among the victims of the disaster. Indonesia raised its official death toll Saturday to 104,055 as the total in 11 nations surpassed 150,000.

Medan, the main city on Sumatra island, has a reputation as a base for criminal gangs that sell children into servitude or for sexual exploitation.

Rahmat Sentika, deputy for child welfare at Meutia's ministry, said Saturday his department had not received any official report on trafficking of Acehnese children, but it was moving to ensure such smuggling does not happen.

"Our department, in cooperation with police, is monitoring all strategic places and cities around the borders," he said.

Indonesia recently placed restrictions on children younger than 16 leaving the country in an effort to avert child trafficking.

UNICEF spokesman John Budd, based in Jakarta, said the group had received two reports of attempted child trafficking that were considered reliable but had not been confirmed by the agency.

However, in one of those cases, police said they believed the adults involved were well-intentioned and had not committed any crime. Police said they had not received any reports about the second case.

Rahmat estimated that between 500 and 1,000 Acehnese children were transferred to Jakarta, mostly by their relatives. At least 18 also have died at hospitals in the Indonesian capital.

AP news

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After the Tsunami, 3 Families Fight to Rebuild Their Lives

source: nytimes.com


Published: January 9, 2005 - The New York Times

KALUTARA, Sri Lanka, Jan. 7 - This is how Lal Karunamuni knows the difference in the landscape around him: with his bare feet he prods where the beach road washed out; his groping hands confirm that his bed, cupboard, gas cooker and radio are gone; he smells the sludge in his bedroom and toilet; and he feels the heat of the fires burning debris.

The rest he must take his neighbors' word for.

Mr. Karunamuni, 52, is blind, which makes his survival of the Dec. 26 tsunami all the more remarkable. A cousin saw him walking toward the massing sea, shouted at him to stop, then dragged him up two flights of stairs to safety.

Yet beyond needing his friends' guiding arms to navigate the rubble, Mr. Karunamuni's challenge in the tsunami's aftermath is no different from the challenges facing millions of others affected across Asia and Africa. Lives must be restarted, houses rebuilt, families reconstituted and losses weighed against others' misfortune.

Mr. Karunamuni said he was 26 when he went blind, a driver for tourists who, heady with youth, ignored signs of worsening glaucoma until the world went dark.

Soon after, his brothers built him a small home near the sea. "Welcome Sri Lanka," it says on the outside, a link to his past work shepherding visitors. He knows every corner of his neighborhood, at least as it existed before the water remade it.

Mr. Karunamuni says he reveres Helen Keller and likes to quote poetry: "O say what is that thing called light which I must never enjoy/ What are the blessings of the sight, tell your poor blind boy," which he attributed to John Milton, although it is by Colley Cibber.

He sang, in a lovely voice, a song he wrote soon after losing his sight. It begins, "I can go with this stick everywhere, you do not say I cannot go here and there," and ends, "I have a future, can become a teacher." He did not. His brothers were poor, and his country, still developing, has few resources for the disabled.

So, Mr. Karunamuni has spent more than two decades just getting by. He has survived on his brothers' charity and 500 rupees a month - about $5 - from renting out the extra room in his small house. He has lived on curry and rice.

His financial status, always fragile, is now precarious. Most of his possessions are gone. The extra room cannot be rented now, its interior sucked out by the sea. He is staying with Kaluperuma Chandrasiri Silva, 56, a cousin who lives nearby, and whose own home was inundated with five feet of water.

Mr. Silva's mattress is still wet. The papaya trees in his yard are already shriveling and dying. The restaurant where he worked is gone, and with it his job.

The hotel where Mr. Karunamuni's nephew, Mahesh Kumar, worked is closed. Seven adult members of the family are now subsisting on one schoolteacher's income.

Mr. Karunamuni, whose cloudy blue eyes sometimes look like the sea, is waiting for the government to assess the damage to his house and help him clean it.

Then he will sleep there, as he has for 25 years, within earshot of the waves. He calls the sea "a very dangerous bugger," but believes its innocence has returned.

He grasps clearly both his diminished finances and his relative good fortune.

"Other people lost everything, not only myself," he said, and casually pointed to the damaged houses as if he could see them.

Muhammad Zain's home sat feet from the sea in a housing scheme in Hambantota, a town on the southern coast. Where 300 houses once stood, perhaps 10 are left. The rest were broken to bits by the tsunami.

[Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations flew in to visit Hambantota on Saturday. "From the air I saw a beautiful country, but there has been a lot of damage," he said, Reuters reported.]

Mr. Zain's family has been smashed as thoroughly as any structure. The water took the lives of as many as 60 relatives, including his two children and pregnant wife, and four of his eight siblings. An elaborate family tree has been denuded.

With so much mourning to do, the family, now divided among relatives' homes a safe distance from the sea, has not begun to think about rebuilding. Instead, they are focused on reuniting those still alive. Like hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan families, they rely for income partly on relatives working in the Middle East. This week, they were still collecting family members from abroad. There is also the future of an orphaned child to attend to.

Mr. Zain, 40, a fisherman who also lost his boat, sat on the couch between two of his sisters. On his left was M. I. Najuma, 35, who was in Dubai, where she worked as a housemaid, when the wave struck. She had not seen her husband, a postman, and son, 5, since she left for Dubai a year ago. On the phone, her son had asked for a bicycle and toys. When last seen alive on Dec. 26, father and son were heading to the store to buy a lollipop.

She had heard the news of the tsunami from her sister, living in Abu Dhabi, who learned about it from the BBC. When Ms. Najuma asked her employer for leave, he said no, accusing her of lying, she said. Only after a call from Sri Lanka conveyed the news of death, and after she threatened to kill herself, did he give her 15 days' leave, after she worked at his family wedding that week.

The bodies of Ms. Najuma's son and husband were buried before she could see them.

Seated next to Mr. Zain was Ms. Najuma's sister, Naisarina Tasim, 45. She lost her daughter, son-in-law and 3-year-old grandson. The only survivor on that side of the family, her 9-year-old granddaughter G. Risla Adahan, sat on her lap.

Ms. Tasim wanted to return to Abu Dhabi, but not without Risla. She had no idea how to begin getting the necessary permissions to take her out of Sri Lanka or a get her a visa for the United Arab Emirates. For now all she could do was cry.

"There is no one to look after this girl," she said, and said again.

Just then Nasar Mahamud, 31, walked in, having rushed back from Kuwait.

As he hugged his wife's grandmother, Karim Srainana, 83, she cried.

She had lost two of her three sons. One of them, she said through sobs, always gave her part of his salary.

Mr. Mahamud's wife and 5-year-old daughter had survived. The little girl had a talent for singing, the family said, and they asked her to perform. For a few minutes, there were smiles, laughter, forgetting.

On the first night back home G. H. Premaratna and his family could barely sleep, listening instead for the sound of the water. The children dreamed that it was coming again, and shouted, "Run! Run!" The women slept in one bedroom, the men in the living room. The morning sun streamed in where the doors and windows used to be, and just 65 yards away a placid sea shone.

The family woke up to the day's tedious work of cleaning and repair. Their house in Koggala still stood, although half of the front wall and the kitchen, which had been out back, were gone. But the family - father, mother, two girls and a boy - was intact, and they preferred the privacy and familiarity of home, however damaged, to the crowded indignity of a refugee camp.

The rebuilding along the coast is as slow as the destruction was swift. One step at a time, first the home, then the livelihood; first sweep away, then reconstruct.

Here the morning's project was cleaning the well. A generator pumped out the brown water and sludge, and Mr. Premaratna, a fisherman, climbed down inside his 15-foot well to scoop from the bottom.

At the top of the well stood G. M. Wijewickrama, 25, an industrial engineer at Martin Emprex, a British textile company in the free trade zone nearby.

Mr. Wijewickrama gets his water from taps, and knows nothing about pumping out wells. Yet he was here on Wednesday, volunteering in a local fisherman's yard, his well-cut white shirt and finely spun gray pants spattered with muddy water.

"We have no experience but we can manage," he said.

By afternoon, the well was pronounced clean, although the water was still brown. The family bathed with it and washed dishes with it. They pondered the jars of rice and dried coconut that had survived what so many human beings did not.

In the fading light, Mr. Premaratna's oldest daughter, Yamuna Kumari, 22, carefully tended the fire over which she was cooking lentil curry in the absence of a kitchen. The cooking utensils had been donated, and so had the lentils, the family living from one handout to the next.

It was their second night back home. With no electricity, they ate dinner by candlelight just feet from where they had been eating breakfast when the tsunami came. The need to fuel themselves was the only continuity between then and now.

Mr. Premaratna had lost his boat, but his two daughters worked in a nearby garment factory. The family would be provided for, but finding the money to rebuild the house was another matter.

It had taken his wife, K. Florida, seven years of working as a housemaid in Lebanon to pay for building the six-room house and stock it with a television, washing machine, irons and more. She had left for the Middle East when her second daughter, now 17, was only 5 months old.

"The best part of my life I spent in Lebanon," Ms. Florida said, the words traced with sourness. Now much of what she had sacrificed for was gone.

That hurt, but she knew, amid her country's landscape of loss, what mattered more: in the candlelight, two long-haired daughters cooking, and a father feeding bread and curry to his 8-year-old son.

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Video of the tsunami, Indonesia's Aceh province

source: AP News

January 10, 2005 9:37 AM EST

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A videotape shot as a tsunami swept through Indonesia's Aceh province aired for the first time Sunday and showed a roiling torrent of dark brown water engulfing a busy street, picking up cars and minivans and sending people scrambling up the sides of buildings.

The videotape, broadcast by Metro TV - a commercial channel based in Jakarta, was shot by a cameraman named Hasyim who normally photographs weddings. He captured a horrific record of the unfolding Dec. 26 disaster, starting minutes after a giant undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean toppled buildings and including a scene hours later showing a long line of corpses covered with cloth.

More than 104,000 Indonesians died in the catastrophe. The tsunami swept through southern Asia and as far as east Africa, killing more than 150,000 people in total.

The video was given worldwide distribution by Associated Press Television News and can be viewed on many Web sites that carry video news pictures.

The recording starts with people milling on the streets of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, shortly after the magnitude-9.0 quake - the world's biggest in four decades - and climbing onto piles of rubble, unaware that a massive sea surge was heading toward them.

Some buildings had crumpled, with floors lying on top of one another, while others appeared undamaged.

As his videotape showed a building that became a pile of twisted girders, Hasyim told Metro TV that five construction workers were sleeping inside the unfinished structure when it collapsed, probably killing them all.

People standing around or examining the remains of wrecked houses and cracked concrete slabs appeared relatively calm. Motorcycle traffic continued moving through the streets and no emergency sirens were audible.

Then, suddenly - Hasyim said it was between 15 and 20 minutes after the quake - the videotape showed a swift, powerful wall of water engulfing a busy street, rising to at least the second floor of buildings and carrying so much debris and garbage that the water itself was hardly visible.

Large squares of sheet metal, refrigerators, planks of wood and a restaurant's food display case were among the objects swept along in what looked like a river roaring through the town. Several large oil drums bounced up and down along the surface.

"Everybody was screaming 'Water!' Everybody scattered, running toward the grand mosque," said Hasyim, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. He said a friend named Munawar shot some of the footage.

The water knocked vehicles sideways before sweeping them up; an older man sat in the drivers' seat of a blue minivan but managed to clamber onto a balcony when the wave pushed him toward the side of the road and wedged his vehicle against a building.

About six vehicles - including a pickup truck - floated along together. A huge tree moved swiftly along the street, carried by the unstoppable wave.

Hasyim said the waves were even more turbulent elsewhere in the city. As he videotaped from atop a building in a mosque complex, the water beneath him rose to 10 feet deep, almost touching his feet, Hasyim said.

His camera remained steady throughout.

"I remembered God, my family," he said, adding that he knew his relatives were safe in a different part of Sumatra island. "Those are the only things I had in mind. ... I gave myself entirely to God, to my faith. I thought, 'If I die here, I am in God's house,' and I wasn't afraid of anything."

It was impossible to see how many people were caught up by the water but many ran from it, some climbing guardrails on the windows of the mosque. Many made it to the building's roof and gazed down in disbelief as the city was engulfed.

Scroll down the page to view the video

4,844 Posts
Taken from Yahoo! News - Associated Press

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Health officials plan to go door to door and tent to tent with mosquito-killing spray guns beginning Friday to head off a looming threat that one expert says could kill 100,000 more people around the tsunami disaster zone: malaria.

The devastation and heavy rains are creating conditions for the largest area of mosquito breeding sites Indonesia has ever seen, said the head of the aid group anchoring the anti-malaria campaign on Sumatra island. The pools of salt water created by the Dec. 26 tsunami have been diluted by seasonal rains into a brackish water that mosquitos love.

While the threat of cholera and dysentery outbreaks is diminishing by the day because clean water is increasingly getting to tsunami survivors, the danger of malaria and dengue fever epidemics is increasing, said Richard Allan, director of the Mentor Initiative, a public health group that fights malaria epidemics.

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami has topped 157,000 across 11 countries after Indonesia added nearly 4,000 more to its tally. Allan warned that an outbreak of malaria could take an additional 100,000 lives around the Indian Ocean if authorities don't act quickly.

"The combination of the tsunami and the rains are creating the largest single set of (mosquito) breeding sites that Indonesia has ever seen in its history," he said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Asked about World Health Organization (news - web sites) warnings that disease could double the tsunami death toll across affected areas, Allan said: "If anything, I think they are being conservative. Three-quarters of those deaths could be from malaria."

The World Health Organization said Thursday that seven cases of malaria have been confirmed in Aceh province. They are popping up now both because malaria season is just beginning and because a reporting system has been put in place over the last few days.

Relief workers in Aceh province on Sumatra island, meanwhile, warned that new rules requiring them to travel with armed escorts could cause bottlenecks in delivering aid and compromise their arms-length status from Indonesia's military.

"We discourage such actions because it blurs the distinction between humanitarian and military efforts here," said Eileen Burke of Save the Children.

Burke said her group has so far had no escorts — or problems — with their work in Sigli, about 60 miles from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.

Rebels who have waged a low-level war for a separate homeland in northern Sumatra for 30 years reaffirmed their commitment to a cease-fire they declared hours after the tsunami.

Still, there have been unconfirmed reports of isolated skirmishes between Indonesian soldiers and rebels since the tsunami.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the government welcomed the rebels' declaration of a cease-fire. "Of course we welcome it. Indonesia will also make efforts toward it," Kalla said in Jakarta, the capital.

Indonesia's moves — which include an order that aid workers declare their travel plans or face expulsion — highlight its sensitivities over foreign involvement in the humanitarian effort, especially that of foreign troops.

Indonesia wants foreign troops out of the country by late March. The United States has the largest presence by far in south Asia with about 13,000 troops — almost all offshore.

However, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Indonesian authorities had informed the United States there is no departure deadline for U.S. troops.

"Nobody is asking us to go home," Boucher said. "The Indonesian statement about three months, they tell us, was intended as an estimate about how long the military part of the operation might be necessary."

The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday protested the restrictions on aid workers, which also apply to reporters. "Unrestricted access to information is absolutely crucial during this relief effort," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. "We call on Indonesian authorities to drop the restrictions immediately."

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said the overall tsunami relief effort was progressing well except in Sumatra, where "huge problems" remain.

"It is still an uphill battle in the region," Egeland said in New York.

Survivors among the tens of thousands living in refugee camps in Banda Aceh have welcomed the foreign troops, who have been flying helicopter aid missions to otherwise inaccessible areas and running field hospitals.

"If they leave, we will starve," said Syarwan, 27, a tailor who is living with some 45 relatives under a tarp at a camp.

The cornerstone of the anti-malaria offensive is an insecticide spraying operation, where fumigators will walk from house to house in all neighborhoods of Banda Aceh.

They will spray the walls and put a small chalk mark on the outside of the front door as they leave so that no homes are left out and locations covered can be accurately mapped.

The tents in the refugee camps dotted around the city will also be sprayed, but those are home to only a tiny fraction of the population. Most people have been taken in by other families.

In communities along the west coast of Sumatra where almost all buildings were wiped out, the main defense will be pesticide-impregnated plastic sheeting, which villagers use for shelter.

"This will be the first situation where there is an incredible threatening epidemic and where if we get everything in place without obstruction ... we have a chance of stemming the starting point of an epidemic which otherwise will undoubtedly happen," Allan said.

Although malaria is endemic in the area, meaning it is widespread under normal circumstances and the local population is used to getting repeatedly infected, that does not provide protection from any outbreak that might emerge from the tsunami.

"They are even more likely to get sick. A lot of them have already got diarrhea, poor nutrition. They are stressed, they've got multiple infections already and their immune systems are weakened," Allan said. "Any immunity they had is gone."

Associated Press medical writer Emma Ross contributed to this report from Jakarta.

Note: Bonita, this one is coincidental with the rainy season back home. In fact I do annual research on insecticides for my work - last year, early 2004, actually we had the 5-year cycle of dengue fever (spread by mosquitos) and it led to an increase in insecticides sales in the country. This year the likelihood of malaria seems even bigger :(

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Discussion Starter #8
The following is a bit late but urgently needed:

source: AP News

U.N. Seeks Unified, Global Tsunami System

January 19, 2005 9:06 AM EST

KOBE, Japan - India plans a tsunami-warning system that its neighbors could join, while Indonesia envisions one run by southeast Asian countries. The Germans are pitching their own high-tech network, but the United Nations says it should set up the system - and then extend it globally.

The Asian tsunami disaster demonstrated with terrifying power the need for an alert system in the Indian Ocean and other parts of the world, but the outpouring of support to build one has generated a plethora of overlapping proposals.

Amid the confusion, U.N. officials at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, called on Wednesday for coordination of efforts - and insisted on their own central role in marshaling the expertise and setting up the system.

"The event was of such magnitude that we have seen forthcoming some very interesting and very complete proposals," said Patricio Bernal, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, which coordinates a warning system in the Pacific.

But, he said, "we feel we need to provide the common platform."

The conference, which was refocused to concentrate on tsunami after the Dec. 26 Asian tragedy killed more than 160,000 people, has set its top priority as the construction of an early warning system for ravaged nations in the Indian Ocean.

The model for the new network is an existing system in the Pacific, which was established in 1965 and now provides early tsunami warnings to 26 nations. Experts say much of the technology - from earthquake and sea level sensors to messaging systems - could be easily transferred to southern Asia.

The key, experts said, is organizing Indian Ocean nations so that they are able to transmit alerts to coastal communities and share information among themselves quickly. Scientists will face the complex tasks of gauging tsunami risks along varied coastlines. Countries also need evacuation plans and measures to mitigate damage.

Still, officials were confident they could put together a functioning system in southern Asia by the middle of next year. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which runs the IOC, has already proposed such a network in the Indian Ocean that would cost $30 million, with the goal of extending it worldwide by mid-2007.

But first, the United Nations will have to sort through the differing ideas about what should be done. UNESCO plans two meetings in Paris, the first in early March, to put look at all the proposals, find common ground and work toward a single system.

"I would like to propose that we go about establishing this system in a coordinated way," said UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura.

Elsewhere, Japan on Wednesday briefly issued a tsunami warning after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck off its eastern coast. Officials said the waves the quake generated were less than a foot high and posed little danger.

U.N. officials in New York said a clearer picture was emerging of the destruction in Indonesia's Aceh province. The town of Calang, for example, lost 90 percent of its population - 6,550 people out of the pre-tsunami population of 7,300, said Kevin Kennedy of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

In Indonesia, U.S. helicopters were flying 80 aid missions a day, said Capt. Matt Klunder, Naval Air Wing 2 deputy commander. Villagers were no longer mobbing the helicopters as soon as they touched down, he said.

"Now there's a little more confidence because they know that on a somewhat regular basis we can get them foodstuffs and water," he said.

In the past week, the missions have begun reaching survivors who sheltered in the mountains after the tsunami and only recently returned to the coast, Klunder said. Among that group, the conditions are sometimes desperate, he added.

In Kobe on Wednesday, weather experts, seismologists and oceanographers from around the world discussed the lessons learned from 40 years of operating the Pacific Ocean system and gave broad outlines of what a network in southern Asia could look like.

The ideas were varied.

K. Radhakrishan, director of India's National Center for Ocean Information Services, said his country has the technological capability to build a broad network that would stretch from Australia to eastern Africa by September 2007, for $30 million.

Indonesia, meanwhile, wants to expand its quake and tsunami monitoring centers as part of its national protection plan and suggested a quake information center run by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could be retooled to focus on tsunami.

Even distant Germany has come forth with a warning system for part the region, though Bernal of the IOC said the plan was "ambitious" because it appeared to require technological advances to implement.

U.N. officials and other experts said coastal areas near the epicenters of tsunami-generating earthquakes would need breakwaters and resident awareness to avert disaster.

There are also differing plans on what to do outside of Asia. The United States last week unveiled a $37.5 million plan to build a system designed to protect both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts by mid-2007. The plan would enlarge the Pacific network and erect similar safeguards for the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf coasts.

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Discussion Starter #9
26 January, 2005

It has been a long month since Asia has been hit by earthquakes and tsunami. Do you still remember these tragic events? Please don't forget people are still suffering :(

TSUNAMI DEATH TOLL (As of 26 January 2005)

Indonesia: at least 95,000 dead; 133,000 missing, presumed dead
Sri Lanka: 31,000 dead; 5,637 missing
India (inc. Andaman and Nicobar islands): 10,744 dead; 5,640 missing
Thailand: 5,384 dead; 3,130 missing
Somalia: approx. 150 dead
Maldives: 82 dead; 26 missing
Malaysia: 68 dead
Burma: 59 dead (government figure)
Tanzania: 10 dead
Bangladesh: 2 dead
Kenya: 1 dead
Seychelles: 1 dead

Sri Lanka remembers tsunami dead


Wednesday was a day of mourning across Sri Lanka. Ceremonies have been taking place in Sri Lanka one month after coastal areas were devastated by December's Indian Ocean tsunami.
The country observed one minute's silence at 0936 local time (0336 GMT), when the giant waves first struck land.

More than 31,000 Sri Lankans are confirmed to have died in the disaster.

In India, where the official death toll is nearly 11,000, the one-month anniversary has been overshadowed by Republic Day celebrations.

'United in grief'

Radio and television stations in Sri Lanka stopped broadcasting to mark the minute's silence.

Sri Lanka press mourns

"All Sri Lankans are united in grief and the need to rise above any differences, political or otherwise, to work together to rebuild the nation," said Harim Peiris, presidential spokesman and head of the government's relief and reconstruction efforts.

Rebel Tamil Tigers declared Wednesday to be a day of mourning in the northern and eastern areas of the country they control.

"Let us all share in the grief and bereavement of our brethren who have lost their beloved ones," a Tamil Tiger statement said, the AFP news agency reports.

In many parts of the country, people gathered at candle-lit religious ceremonies to remember the dead.

"We are praying that tsunami will never return," Buddhist monk L Chandarasani said near the southern town of Galle, in government-controlled territory, the Associated Press agency reports.

But mourners also voiced their anger at the slow process of aid and reconstruction.

"We have not received any assistance yet," one banner on a homeless person's tent said.

"We have got nothing from the government," one man near Galle told AP.

In Tamil Tiger-controlled areas, the distribution of aid has been a deeply contentious issue between the rebels and the government.

Indians want more help

The worst affected part of the Indian mainland was Tamil Nadu where more than 8,000 people died.

The BBC's Sampath Kumar, in the town of Cuddalore where more than 1,000 people died, says survivors are struggling to rebuild their lives.

Mourning the dead at Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

Fishermen there are still living in fear, fuelled by rumours that, because there is a full moon, the sea might rise again.

In the small fishing hamlet of Peranodai, a group of fishermen went to sea on Tuesday in 10 new boats provided by a non-governmental organisation.

To instil confidence among the fishermen, a senior district official and a state minister accompanied them to sea.

One fisherman, Ayyanar, told the BBC that 10 boats were not enough to rebuild the local industry.

In the village of Devanampattinam one man told the BBC how he and others could not get compensation for their dead relatives because the bodies had not been found.

"The district authorities have promised that the money would be given," he said

Meanwhile, the authorities have been setting up temporary shelters made of zinc sheets with concrete asbestos roofing for the homeless.

Non-governmental organisations say the people affected need psychological help.

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Discussion Starter #10
Update : 8 February 2005

News of the tsunami is quickly fading from our minds but in Asia, the ordeal is far from over ... if you can, please help.

Photo credit: Beawiharta / Reuters

A man leaps through the ruins of a house in the tsunami-hit region of Banda Aceh on the Indonesian island of Sumatra last month. Six weeks after the tsunami, governments have only given a fraction of the aid they promised.

Source: The Associated Press / Updated: 4:20 p.m. ET Feb. 8, 2005

U.N.: Nations falling behind in tsunami pledges

Only one-third of money has been delivered, rebuilding aid needed

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The United Nations said governments have only given a fraction of the money they pledged for tsunami aid and warned that more cash is needed to fund long-term reconstruction efforts.

The global body was also considering moving its base in Indonesia’s worst-hit Aceh province because of security concerns. Al-Qaida linked suicide bombers have targeted Westerners in Indonesia three times in the past three years.

Estimates of the number of people killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami that struck 11 nations ranged from about 162,000 to 178,000 — most of them in Indonesia.

Another 26,000 to 142,000 are missing, but officials say it’s too early to add them to the toll with bodies still being found. Indonesia said Tuesday it had found 1,055 more corpses, raising the country’s confirmed death toll to at least 115,756.

U.S. issues updated list

In Washington, the State Department, accounting for all but 18 Americans, reported Tuesday that 18 U.S. citizens died in the tsunami and 15 others are presumed dead.

Beginning with some 30,000 inquiries from relatives, friends and others, the department reduced its investigation to a total of 18 missing Americans.

“We will not stop until we know everything we can know,” said Adam Ereli, the deputy spokesman.

Of the 18 dead, 10 perished in Thailand and eight in Sri Lanka, Ereli said. Of the 15 presumed dead, 14 were in Thailand and one was in Sri Lanka, he said.

Before listing an American as presumed dead there had to be “compelling evidence,” Ereli said, such as eyewitnesses reporting a person had suddenly disappeared when the disaster struck.

Minor quakes felt

New earthquakes rattled the region early Tuesday, but there were no reports of damage or injury. Temblors were felt in Taiwan and Papua New Guinea, which were unaffected by the disaster.

With the emergency phase of relief operations over, Japan said it will pull its relief troops out of Indonesia by the end of March, in line with Jakarta’s wishes.

But hundreds of thousands of survivors are still in need and the United Nations begged governments to deliver promised aid.

Nations have pledged $977 million, but only $360 million has reached the world body’s coffers, said Margareta Wahlstrom, special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“This is our key message to government donors: Please convert your pledges into hard cash in the bank. It’s only cash in the bank that makes it possible to do work on the ground,” she said Monday in Geneva.

Reconstruction funds needed

Although the United Nations is not short of funds to maintain its humanitarian relief operations, it warned that money is still needed in the long run for reconstruction.

Governments “are very generous classically with food, health, and children, but they are very slow in filling us up on livelihoods and shelter,” she said.

The State Department said last week that Washington has given nearly $119 million out of $350 million it has pledged in tsunami aid.

But in Sri Lanka, corruption was hampering aid operations. Officials have been accused of plundering relief supplies, demanding bribes from tsunami victims, and being drunk on duty.

Several people were suspended last week, with others under investigation.

The U.N. World Food Program will soon dispatch more food aid monitors to try to “abolish any corruption within the government system,” coordinator Dawit Getachew said.

Dozens of tsunami survivors staged a noisy protest that disrupted traffic on a main road in a village near Colombo, accusing a village official of giving food and cash aid only to his supporters.

In Indonesia’s Aceh province, security concerns prompted U.N. officials to consider relocating the base for the massive international relief effort there.

Joel Boutroue, U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator, said the United Nations “does not expect to be a target” of an attack. But he said the walled compound in Banda Aceh, where 100 aid workers live and work, had “structural weaknesses” and “is not optimal ... from a security perspective.”

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Fresh statistics in Poland say that more than 250000 people died. I wonder, how did they get that information. In fact we don't now how many people lived there before tsunami because Indonesian goverment didn't make any stats.

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Discussion Starter #12
The 5th of April, 2005 marked the 100th day after the deadly Tsunami. Here is an analysis from Reuter's AlertNet.

Thai Buddhist monks recite prayers during a multi-religious candle light vigil for tsunami victims in Thailand's Takua Pa in January. Photo by BAZUKI MUHAMMAD

VIEWPOINT: 100 days after tsunami, questions remain
06 Apr 2005

Source: AlertNet

On a key Buddhist anniversary, ActionAid India’s Raheela Amirally asks whether governments have learnt crucial lessons after the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Buddhists believe that on the 100th day after death, the grieving for the lost should cease. That is when the soul is liberated from its former life to pass on to the next.

On Tuesday 5 April, a hundred days had passed since the tsunami that devastated the Indian Ocean basin.

Across the region, survivors remembered their loved ones. And in Thailand, in line with Buddhist tradition, many also prepared to get on with their lives.

Yet as tremors continue, culminating in last week’s massive earthquake off the Sumatra coastline, people remain frightened.

For aid agencies working with survivors, the Sumatra earthquake does not only mean picking up the pieces after the deaths of more than 500 Indonesian islanders.

It is difficult for a survivor to get on with life when nature conspires to remind you of death and destruction. It is also difficult to act confidently when you have numerous false alarms and a lack of any systematised warning system.

Whatever their faith or none, the latest earthquake has amplified people’s worries.

ActionAid’s emergencies and human security advisor, Dr PV Unnikrishnan, who is based in Sri Lanka, said aid agencies were still struggling to cope with the psychological impact of the December tsunami, and the Sumatra earthquake will inevitably add to survivors’ trauma.

“The psychosocial impact of this second massive earthquake is going to be a huge challenge for humanitarian agencies,” Unnikrishnan said. “Repeated tremors are having a long lasting impact on people’s psyche.”

The tremors that have occurred over the past months show the need for a complete shift in the way governments and international organisations respond to disasters like the earthquake and tsunami.

Political commitment and long-term investment in disaster planning and reduction systems are needed to ensure that communities can still respond quickly once these events become a more distant memory.

“Ordinary people responded fast and this is perhaps the best outcome of the December tsunami,” Unnikrishnan said. “The alert for this earthquake came in the middle of the night and people’s response was instant.

“We witnessed people moving away from the seaside. They were not taking chances this time.”

Communities are on the alert, and a temporary warning network has now been set up for the Indian Ocean region. But a reliable early warning system is still badly needed.

In India, the government issued a tsunami warning and people were quick to respond, fleeing to nearby schools and temples. But when the danger passed, no “all clear” was sounded and people were left confused and ill at ease.

Khurshid Alam, ActionAid’s tsunami programme coordinator, points out that an early warning system is only effective when people trust it.

“Governments have to issue a scientific explanation about why the tsunami did not occur, to preserve people’s trust in the warning system,” Alam said.

He added that people needed to understand that the warning was not false and that the risk of a tsunami was real.

Earlier this year, people involved with picking up the pieces after disaster met in Kobe, Japan, at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction 2005. Tsunami survivors were very much at the top of the agenda.

“Governments must implement the Kobe commitment, which was adopted by the conference, to ensure that communities are more resilient to those disaster events,” said Alam.

For Buddhists and others who are trying to rebuild their lives 100 days after the tsunami, the latest earthquake has underscored the need for continuing long-term commitment. This is not only about setting up an early warning system but also about preparing communities to cope with sudden emergencies.

Only then will the poorest people in the region be able to meet the challenges that are being thrown at them.

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Discussion Starter #13
It is now 6 months after the tragedy - what's happening in the affected areas? Is there hope at the end of the rainbow?

Tsunami aid 'went to the richest'

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4621365.stm

Six months after the Asian tsunami, a leading international charity says the poorest victims have benefited the least from the massive relief effort.
A survey by Oxfam found that aid had tended to go to businesses and landowners, exacerbating the divide between rich and poor.

The poor were likely to spend much longer in refugee camps where it is harder to find work or rebuild lives.

Oxfam has called for aid to go to the poorest and most marginalised.

They must not be left out of reconstruction efforts, the charity said.

The tsunami in the Indian Ocean on 26 December killed at least 200,000 people in countries as far apart as Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Somalia.

David Loyn, the BBC's developing world correspondent, says it is perhaps not surprising that the poorest suffered the most from the disaster itself.

Living in frail shelter, on marginal land, they were literally swept away by the waves, and the survivors among the poorest communities had less access to medical help than richer people did.

Intolerable gaps

The survey points to the marginalisation of dalits - outcasts in India - and specific problems in Sri Lanka where aid has gone to businesses and landowners rather than the landless.

This poverty gap is worst in Aceh, the Indonesian province which was the most badly affected area, already impoverished by conflict before the tsunami hit.

Half a million survivors were homeless.

Yet the wealthier among them have already been able to move out of temporary camps.

Another survey by a group of British academics monitoring the delivery of aid has found that, six months on, there is little evidence of permanent accommodation being built for most people.

It says starkly that these failures would not be tolerated after a disaster in the developed world.

All aid agencies, as well as regional governments must share some blame for this failure, our correspondent adds.

The unprecedented international response to the tragedy means that the immediate humanitarian demands could be fully funded.

Failure to deliver assistance effectively to the poorest, or to plan properly for the future, reveals fundamental weaknesses in the system.

Related article: Tsunami remembered six months on
source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4623345.stm
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