Tsunami death toll could rise to 200,000: UN official

The death toll from the Dec. 26 tsunamis in the Indian Ocean could rise to 200,000 from the current approximately 150,000, a U.N. official coordinating humanitarian relief said Monday.

Kevin Kennedy, director of the Coordination and Response Division of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the United Nations will accept private-sector accountants' audits to prevent misuses of tsunami aid to be provided by member nations.

The audit is apparently aimed at ensuring the transparent flow of aid following alleged fraud by senior U.N. officials in the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq, a humanitarian aid project provided to the country when it was ruled by Saddam Hussein.

Major donors, including Australia, Japan and the United States, have reportedly pledged more than $5.2 billion for people affected by the tsunamis caused by a powerful earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra Island.

The private-sector accountants are expected to check the disbursement of the aid and track the flow of money.

The audit is also intended to urge the donors to implement the aid as pledged because some countries have not fulfilled their financial commitments in past disasters.

Source: agencies

People's Daily Online --- http://english.people.com.cn/