Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Aid slow in coming to Indonesia

As I worried a couple months ago, it looks like aid to rebuild Banda Aceh has been very slow to materialize:
Three months after a tsunami devastated this city, vast areas remain a flatland of rubble, mud and stagnant water where only palm trees and the stumps of broken buildings break the low horizon.

Tens of thousands of bodies from among more than 126,000 reported dead in Aceh Province have been cleared away and nearly half a million homeless people have found other places to live.

But among the ruins here, and for many miles along the coastline of barren fishing villages, almost nothing seems to have been done to begin repairs and rebuilding.

There is little sign in Aceh of the billions of dollars in donations from governments, aid organizations, civic groups and individual people who reached out to help from around the world.

"The only thing we've gotten is small packets of food and supplies," said Samsur Bahri, 54, a shopkeeper who lost his home and now lives with nine people in a small room. "Where the money is, we don't know. It's just meetings, meetings, meetings."

The government and the United Nations defend the pace of the reconstruction, saying the scope and complexity of the challenge requires a careful and well-planned response.
Let's hope they're right and that after all the careful planning we will start to see some real improvement in Aceh.


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