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Annan to visit Indonesia as global aid soars to 2 bln
www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-02 09:05:19

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- International aid pledges for tsunami-ravaged Asian and African countries have soared to 2 billion US dollars and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would travel to Indonesia for a donors conference, UN officials said on Saturday.

International aid pledges for tsunami-ravaged Asian and African countries have soared to 2 billion US dollars and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would travel to Indonesia for a donors conference, UN officials said on Saturday.

Desperate Indonesians from a small village scramble to catch supplies being dropped from the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 2 'Golden Falcons' at Banda Aceh after a supply drop, January 1, 2005 in Indonesia. (Xinhua/Reuters)
    
"We are at the moment recording pledges of 2 billion dollars for emergency phase and recovery phase," Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland told his daily news conference. "The international compassion has never ever been like this."

    The figure was more than all the aid received by the United Nations in 2004 for emergency humanitarian relief operations across the world, including that in Sudan's western region of Darfur, he said.

    The surge in the donations was mainly attributed to an offer of 500 million dollars by Japan earlier in the day, the biggest single donation so far. The aid pledges jumped to 1.2 billion dollars Friday after the United States and the World Bank promised 350 million dollars and 250 million dollars.

    Egeland said Annan has been invited to visit Indonesia on Thursday for an international donors conference. Other UN officials confirmed Annan had accepted the invitation and would launch an appeal for aid from there, rather than in New York as originally planned.

    During his stay in Indonesia, Annan is also expected to discuss with leaders of the Southeast Asian Association member states effects of the unprecedented tsunami disaster.

    Egeland reiterated his call for logistical support for relief operations so that food, medicine and other supplies could be quickly distributed to some 5 million people affected by the deadly tidal waves.

    "The biggest constraints are the logistical bottlenecks by far," he said. "We need to make small, damaged airstrips some of the busiest airports in the world."

    "The military and civil defense assets that many countries are providing are as valuable as cash or gold would be because it makes us move the assistance and it makes us get there in the race against the clock."

    Egeland said at a telephone conference with ministers of the United States, Australia and other "core group" countries on Friday night, he had outlined a wish list for logistical support, which included helicopters, cargo planes, air traffic controllers and fuel storage units.

    The "core group" was established by Washington to help the United Nations coordinate the global relief efforts.

    Egeland, who estimated on Friday the death toll from the Dec. 26 tsunami would reach 150,000, also warned that the figure could rise further as fatalities in many remote villages have not been recorded yet.

    "I am sure it will be higher than that but I am also sure we will never know how many people were washed to sea and will never, ever be found," he said.

    Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UN Children's Fund, will start a five-day tour to Southern Asia on Sunday, with Sri Lanka as her first stop. Enditem

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