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Home >> World
UPDATED: 13:33, December 31, 2004
Int'l community pledges more relief efforts for tsunami victims
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The international community pledged more relief efforts for tsunami-devastated South and Southeast Asian countries Thursday as the death toll from the worst earthquake and tsunamis climbed to over 125,000.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the international community has pledged and disbursed around 500 million US dollars for relief efforts and he was "satisfied" with such a good response.

More than 30 countries and millions of individuals have stepped forward to help, he added. On Jan. 6, Annan is due to launch an appeal for long-term assistance for the tsunami-hit countries.

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the World Bank has pledged to allocate 250 million US dollars for relief efforts after the devastating tidal waves.

Eckhard said the fund was announced by World Bank President James Wolfensohn in a phone conversation with Annan earlier Thursday.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference that China, which has already donated 21.63million yuan (about 2.615 million US dollars) worth of relief goods, will increase its emergency assistance in terms of both goods and monetary donations.

Liu said China will send 100-odd-member medical team to tsunami-ravaged Indonesia, and the Ministry of Health will organize many other experts to fly to disaster-hit regions Thursday.

Early Friday, a Chinese quake rescue team arrived in Medan, Indonesia, to help emergency aid efforts there. They will leave for Aceh Province later in the day.

The Red Cross Society of China has also decided to offer another emergent donation totaling 340,000 dollars for six severely tsunami-hit countries.

It called on the whole country to provide humanitarian aid for those disaster-hit countries, and asked the red cross at all levels to raise donation.

Also on Thursday, US President George W. Bush has called Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga and conveyed his shock at and concern about the disaster wrought by the tsunami in Sri Lanka.

"The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities. I assure those leaders that this is just only the beginning of our help," he said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, on behalf of Bush, went to embassies of Thailand and Sri Lanka in Washington to express sympathy and extend condolences to the peoples of the two countries.

Following American pledge to offer 35 million dollars in aid to nations devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami, Powell said, "Much more money will follow as the need is determined as we see how best to use these resources."

Powell will visit the countries devastated by the tsunami disaster, said a White House spokesman, adding that President Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, will join the visit to assess the need for assistance.

British charities announced on Thursday that they have so far raised 15 million pounds (about 28.9 million dollars) in aid for Asian tsunami victims.

The amount matched the sum pledged by the British government, which said Wednesday that it was sending 15 million pounds to ease the suffering of the survivors of the tidal waves.

In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that France's aid for victims of the Asian tsunamis rose to 41.3 million euros (56.17 million dollars).

According to the statement, 21.3 million euros are emergency aid, which was distributed among Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Indonesia and India.

Another 20 euros are to be allocated to prevent epidemic risks, said the Foreign Ministry.

French President Jacques Chirac also asked his government "to press for the principle of a debt moratorium within the Paris Clubfor the countries" and to double the emergency aid already mobilized to help to fight epidemic threats.

In Ottawa, Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham told reporters the Canadian federal government is following a "multilateral, multidisciplinary and multifaceted" approach to relief efforts.

That includes the 40 million Canadian dollars (about 33 million dollars) in aid announced so far, as well as the imminent departure of a 17-member reconnaissance team charged with determining the need for Canada's crack military emergency response unit.

Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew also said Canada is freezing debt repayment for the hardest-hit countries.

The Portuguese government on Thursday announced the donation of8 million euros (10.8 million dollars) to help the tsunami victims.

Mexico said it will donate 100,000 dollars for humanitarian-relief tasks in affected areas.

South Korea decided to commit an additional 3 million dollars in emergency relief funds for the tsunami-hit countries. Previously, it had promised 2 million dollar donation.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said a navy ship and helicopters will be sent to tsunami-hit Indonesia and a field hospital will be set up in Aceh area.

Australia has offered a total of 35 million dollars (27 millionUS dollars) of relief aid to those Asian countries hit by the tsunami disaster.

Japan will consider additional aid to areas in Asia devastated by Sunday's powerful quake off Indonesia's Sumatra Island and subsequent tsunamis, said Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura. Thecountry has previously pledged 30 million dollars to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the government will raise its relief contribution from 2 million Singapore dollars (about 1.2 million dollars) to 5 million Singapore dollars (about 3 million dollars).

Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai decided on Thursday that Vietnam will provide humanitarian aid for the four countries which were hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunamis.

Indonesia will be provided with 150,000 dollars, and Thailand, India and Sri Lanka will be granted 100,000 dollars each, according to a report of the Vietnam News Agency.

Early Sunday, an 8.7-magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean sent high waves crashing onto the shores of coastal Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives and Bangladesh, and submerged villages and towns.

Source: Xinhua

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