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LongTerm Rehabilitation After Indian Ocean Tsunami

UN Agencies Look To Longer-Term Rehabilitation After Indian Ocean Tsunami

With emergency relief now reaching nearly all affected communities in the Indonesian province of Aceh, the area most ravaged by last month’s Indian Ocean tsunami, United Nations agencies are looking to mitigate the longer term impact of a disaster that killed at least 165,000 and deprived up to 5 million more of basic services.

>From trade to employment to the environment experts are drafting plans for longer-term rehabilitation.

“The humanitarian response by the international community, under United Nations leadership, needs to be matched by a coherent, comprehensive and longer-term package of policy measures and actions to support and revive economic activity in the affected countries,” the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says.

It is calling for a temporary provision of duty-free treatment to imports from the affected countries and an immediate suspension termination of all special trade-restraining measures, such as anti-dumping actions, against products originating in these countries, such as seafood and processed agricultural products.

It is also recommending relaxation of market access for service providers of the affected countries, so as to help generate additional foreign exchange, and special measures to revive the tourism industry and infrastructure.

The International Labour Office (ILO) today urged that employment-intensive job creation strategies be integrated into the humanitarian and reconstruction response, noting that the tsunami destroyed the livelihoods of an estimated 1 million people in Indonesia and Sri Lanka alone.

Pledging to coordinate its effort with wider government and multilateral efforts, the ILO said its response is based on the recognized need for early planning and action aimed at generating employment and new forms of earning a livelihood.

“Employment is core at all stages of disaster management and response. It is an immediate as well as a development need, thus requiring that job creation be an integral part of both humanitarian and reconstruction response,” it added.

The World Food Programme (WFP) stressed Indonesia’s need for long-term partners in rebuilding the lives of those affected.

“Emergency relief supplies are still critical for hundreds of thousands of people, but we must start looking for what comes next,” said WFP Regional Director for Asia, Anthony Banbury, who is on a three-day mission to Indonesia. “While the trauma of this natural disaster will last for generations, the quickest way to bring about an air of ‘normalcy’ is to make sure children return to school, hospitals are rebuilt, roads are re-opened, and people have enough to eat.”

For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO), while noting that during the early phase of the crisis, its priorities were to provide technical support to countries in urgent efforts to prevent communicable, particularly of water-borne, diseases, also stressed the longer-term dimensions.

At a meeting of its Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO), the agency highlighted its work with partners at country level on planning for reconstruction and rehabilitation needs.

Addressing the ecological impact of the disaster, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said environmental issues must be at the centre of all development activity.

“Beyond the immediate concerns of threat to human health and livelihoods, there is increasing evidence of serious impacts on the natural environment, such as damage to coral reefs and protective forests in a number of countries,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer told the told the Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Japan.

“At this stage, it is necessary to carefully assess the situation in a scientific manner. Beyond this we must look at the necessary responses and also learn lessons from this terrible tragedy.”

And the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said rehabilitation of severely affected mangroves would help speed up the recovery process from the tsunami, but it cautioned that large-scale planting should be undertaken with caution so as not to replace other valuable ecosystems, such as turtle nesting grounds and sea grass beds.

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