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Annan Spearheads Donor Drive Will Visit Indonesia

Annan Will Visit Indonesia To Spearhead Donor Drive For Tsunami Aid Effort

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he would attend a high-level international conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, later this week to launch an appeal for emergency funds for the massive relief effort the UN is helping to coordinate in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster.

"This is the largest disaster we have had to deal with," Mr. Annan said in an interview on American Broadcasting Corporation's television programme "This Week."

He said the UN was working closely with the governments of the affected countries, donor nations and a wide range of aid partners to mobilize the resources and the logistical requirements "to go in and be effective."

While in the region, the Secretary-General is expected to visit some of the most affected areas, including Aceh.

Meanwhile, a top UN aid official expressed optimism today that the global community would be able to face up to the enormous challenge.

"The world is really coming together here in a way we probably have never seen before," Jan Egeland , the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator told a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on Sunday.

Mr. Egeland said that overall, assistance was becoming increasingly effective in all of the countries and logistical bottlenecks were being sorted out. Commending the governments of their efforts to facilitate international assistance, he pointed out that such measures as waiving customs and removing all the other bureaucratic obstacles that might exist for normal transactions had helped to move the aid straight to those in need.

In food assistance alone, Mr. Egeland noted, it would be necessary to provide aid to an estimated 1.8 million people in the affected countries, and that number continued to rise.

Within three days or so, he said, it would be possible to reach the 700,000 in need of food assistance in Sri Lanka, but it would take much longer to reach the 1 million he believed w Indonesia.

Noting that the challenge in Indonesia was in a class of its own, Mr. Egeland nevertheless reported "big progress" there. He said there were now 58 groups operating in Banda Aceh, the epicentre of the catastrophe, and other communities on the northern Sumatra coast and in Aceh.

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