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UN: Over $2 Billion In Tsunami Relief Pledges


UN Reports Over $2 Billion In Pledges For The Tsunami Relief Effort

With some 40 countries offering support for the victims of the tsunami disaster, over $2 billion in pledges had already been recorded for the emergency and recovery phase, a senior United Nations relief official said today.

That was more than all of the pledges to all humanitarian appeals in 2004 combined, Jan Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.

The international compassion had never ever been like this, Mr. Egeland said, noting that Japan's extremely generous pledge of $500 million was the biggest so far. There were also huge pledges from the United States and the World Bank for the recovery and rehabilitation phase, as well as from the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom, Sweden, China, the European Union, and many other partners.

He said that the United Nations was coordinating efforts now with hundreds of relief organizations, in addition to the half dozen or so big UN humanitarian agencies involved.

Highlighting some of the most urgent needs of the relief effort, Mr. Egeland repeated his plea for very concrete assistance, such as helicopter carriers for use outside the coasts to prevent clogging the inland airstrips, and five air traffic control units to assist in making small, damaged airstrips some of the busiest airports in the world.

Mr. Egeland said the hardest-hit places were Sumatra and Aceh, possibly accounting for three fourths of all casualties, even though it was impossible to give a total casualty figure. His estimate today was over 150,000 dead, but he stressed it would never be known how many people had been washed to sea and would never be found. However, it was clear, he said, that as a result of the disaster millions of people had lost their "near and dear" ones.

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