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Tsunami anniversary nears, UN envoy Clinton visits

As tsunami anniversary nears, UN envoy Clinton visits worst hit area in Indonesia

United Nations tsunami envoy former United States President Bill Clinton continued his anniversary tour of regions devastated by the Indian Ocean disaster, visiting the Indonesian province of Aceh, the most ravaged area, and calling for a balance between the need for quick results and the achievement of lasting outcomes.

“I was so moved by my first visit to Aceh shortly after the tsunami hit, it was inspiring to see today that people are making real progress toward rebuilding their homes, communities and lives,” he said.

“Yet we still face many challenges with hundreds of thousands of families anxious to move into permanent homes and regain secure livelihoods,” he added, stressing the parallel needs for quick results and longer-term goals that ensure better capacity for economic diversification and growth.

It was Mr. Clinton’s second visit to the region since Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery to help to coordinate the world body’s recovery and reconstruction efforts following the 26 December disaster which killed over 230,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million more in 12 countries.

In the course of eight minutes, the tsunami killed 130,000 people and displaced some 500,000 in Indonesia alone. Providing adequate shelter remains a key priority as more than 100,000 houses were destroyed, with efforts focusing on moving people from tents and other emergency accommodation into more durable transitional shelter while permanent housing is being built.

Meanwhile, projects designed to assist the 600,000 people who lost their livelihoods range from replacing boats that were destroyed to small business programmes for training in management and finance.

Mr. Clinton, who yesterday visited Sri Lanka, the second worst-hit country where 30,000 people were killed and some 516,000 others displaced, today toured a community of homes built by the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM), part of a community with temporary school and health care facilities built by IOM and supported by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the non-profit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization Americares.

He also visited livelihood programs offered to the community by IOM and the UN International Labour Organization (ILO). As in Sri Lanka, he conferred with all concerned parties - including the government, civil society, affected communities, the UN, donors and the members of the private sector.

“I hope my visit underscores the importance of sustained international support for recovery in Aceh,” he said. “The challenges of reconstruction will remain long after much of the world's attention has shifted elsewhere, and friends of Aceh must stay the course in providing critical assistance."

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