The UN was picked by the nations that suffered from the tsunami in the Indian Ocean as the leader of the relief operations.
“What happened on 26 December, 2004, was an unprecedented, global catastrophe. It requires an unprecedented, global response,” said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the summit in Jakarta devoted to relief operations.
The donor countries have already pledged about $5 billion for relief measures, against $1 billion requested by UN chief Kofi Annan. He called the disaster a “nightmare from which we are still hoping to awaken.” “Global leaders have rightly come to the table in Jakarta pledging substantial long-term aid,” James Ensor, policy director at Oxfam International, said in Jakarta. “The real test will be to ensure that these promises are kept when the media spotlight turns away from the tsunami disaster.”
The shock wave that hit the Asian shores after the biggest earthquake in 40 years can have caused a death toll that will eventually surpass 200,000 lives.
The severity of the strike was explained in part by the absence of the tsunami warning system in the countries surrounding the Indian Ocean as they did not often face tsunamis. The summit agreed with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that it was necessary to set up such a system regardless of the costs it will entail.
Creditor nations that had given loans to the affected countries used debt relief as a way to help. Japan agreed to let the devastated nations freeze payment on about $65 billion of debt following UK, France and Germany’s freeze of $3 billion a year of debt. The issue of debt relief will be discussed in greater detail at the meeting of the Paris Club members in January.
Financegates.com, January 6, 2005