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Food, Shelter Shortages Dog Tsunami Relief Efforts

BY Admin  January 28, 2005 at 1:30 PM EDT

Nonetheless, the overall situation is improving, the international body said, according to the Associated Press.

“We know there are needs that are not being met … (but) we are no longer worried about (whether) anyone is starving. The schools are reopening. That is a sure sign of recovery,” Bo Asplund, the U.N. representative in Indonesia, told the AP in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.

On Dec. 26, massive tidal waves generated by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake on the floor of the Indian Ocean killed between 145,00 and 178,000 people in 11 countries and left tens of thousands more missing and presumed dead.

One of the U.N. reports on relief camps said those along Aceh’s west coast are in a deplorable state, such as a lack of latrines forcing people to defecate in fields near rivers and stream where they bathe.

UNICEF, the U.N. children’s fund, warned that 12.7 percent of children in Banda Aceh suffer malnutrition, which stunts growth, retards mental development and weakens the immune system.

That figure was a “critical emergency” requiring immediate intervention, UNICEF said, warning that conditions could be even worse outside the provincial capital, the AP reported.

Throughout the region, diplomatic and political efforts aimed at improving the delivery of assistance to hard-hit areas continued. Aceh rebels and Indonesian government officials met in Helsinki, Finland, to discus humanitarian operations in the province and easing tensions to secure the safety of aid missions.

Moves also were under way in Sri Lanka to ease tension between Tamil Tiger rebels and the government. The two sides planned Friday to discuss guerrilla demands for greater control over relief efforts in areas the rebels control in the north and east, according to the AP.

In Thailand, a two-day conference began, looking into developing a tsunami-warning network in the Indian Ocean like the one in the Pacific Ocean. Delegates from dozens of countries discussed where to base a regional tsunami warning system and what technology would be needed to make it work.