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Saturday, January 08, 2005

Building of relocation camps is top priority: Indonesian government

With some 500,000 homeless Indonesians in Aceh, the building of relocation camps is now the top priority for relief efforts there.

The Indonesian Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab revealed this to Singapore's Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Ng Yat Chung, who was in Banda Aceh on Saturday.

The Minister also praised Singapore's efforts in Meulaboh and Banda Aceh.

It is a shuddering scene of death and destruction.

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Law Society to offer legal aid to tsunami victims

SINGAPORE : Singapore's Law Society says it is ready to extend legal aid for tsunami victims.

The legal aid will extend regionally, in the form of advice to neighbouring countries, where needed, on how to help victims with legal remedies.

And domestically on solving the death certificate issue - something next-of-kin would need in order to claim insurance or seek probate

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Car wash by Singapore Poly students raises $1,500 for tsunami victims

Some 40 Singapore polytechnic students and their friends traded their books for brushes and buckets to raise more funds for tsunami victims.

At a minimum donation of $10 per car wash, the engineering students scrubbed away at 90 cars to raise over $1,500 to help victims of the disaster.

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Singapore to focus relief efforts in Meulaboh

A pledge of US$10 million beyond what’s already promised plus focusing relief efforts on the Indonesian province of Meulaboh. That’s what Singapore will commit to, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Special ASEAN Leaders Meeting on the Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami.

The Special Summit, initiated by Mr Lee, was held yesterday in Jarkarta, Indonesia. Valarie Tan with more in this report.

Indonesia is the worst hit country in this tsunami disaster.

The overall death toll in the country has now surpassed a hundred thousand and is expected to rise.

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Police guard tsunami orphans amid kidnap fears

Indonesian police are guarding refugee camps in tsunami-hit regions to protect orphaned children from being kidnapped by trafficking gangs.

United Nations charity workers have confirmed two attempts to snatch children from the devastated Aceh province.

Indonesia has introduced restrictions on children leaving the country in an attempt to prevent youngsters being sold into forced labour or sexual slavery in rich neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.

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Singapore's new leaders have responded fast to tsunami disaster: SM Goh

SINGAPORE: The tsunami disaster is the first major test facing Singapore's new team of leaders and they've responded well and quickly, says SM Goh Chok Tong.

Help was rendered immediately to tsunami-hit neighbours and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had initiated a regional meeting on future steps, noted SM Goh.

Speaking for the first time on the issue, SM Goh also commended Singaporeans on the way they've stepped forward to help.

Mr Goh was speaking at a ceremony to appoint 53 council members of the Southeast Community Development Council.

The event started with a moment of silence to remember the tsunami victims.

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Relief groups gather to share information on tsunami-hit areas

Bringing the different relief groups together to share resources and cooperate - all in a bid to fight against time and get aid to the tsunami victims.

That is the aim of a tsunami relief sharing session hosted by the National Volunteer & Philantrophy Centre.

About 50 representatives came forward.

A medical team from Ren Ci Hospital and Code 4 made a four-day trip to Aceh.

They found out that while there are many relief groups in tsunami-hit areas, relief may still not be reaching the victims.

They believe sharing information between such groups is a step in the right direction.

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S'pore PM Lee in Jakarta for Special ASEAN Leaders' meet

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be attending the Special ASEAN Leaders' meet in Jakarta on January 6th to discuss the aftermath of earthquake and tsunami.

He is accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs George Yeo, Minister of Defence Teo Chee Hean, Acting Second Minister for Finance and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim and senior officials.

The Prime Minister and his delegation are expected to return to Singapore on the same day. - CNA

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Annan Says Indonesia Tsunami Zone Destroyed, Empty of People

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan toured Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged island of Sumatra and said he has never seen ``such utter destruction, mile after mile,'' as the U.S. military worked with relief groups to care for survivors.

``You wonder, where are the people, what happened to them?'' Annan said in Banda Aceh, one of the worst-hit areas on Indonesia's northern island Sumatra, according to a transcript provided by the UN.

Indonesia will need more than $2 billion to rebuild Aceh, according to the Finance Ministry, and the World Bank today pledged more than $300 million for the province. The Dec. 26 disaster killed an estimated 170,000 people across Asia and left 5 million homeless.

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UNICEF Confirms Tsunami Child Trafficking Case

JAKARTA (Reuters) - The United Nations Children's Fund confirmed a case in Indonesia of trafficking in children orphaned or separated from parents by the Indian Ocean tsunami as ravaged countries were warned to be on high alert for kidnappers.

Reports of children being taken away surfaced soon after the killer waves swamped 13 nations, killing more than 153,000 people and leaving more than a million people injured and homeless. But the UNICEF report is the first confirmed case.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) also said Friday that an Indonesian aid agency had reported seven cases of child-trafficking since the Dec. 26 undersea earthquake that sent giant waves crashing ashore across Asia and East Africa.

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G7 nations to freeze tsunami nations debt repayments

Finance ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialised countries say they have agreed to freeze the debt repayments of nations hit by the Asian tsunami.

The G7 finance ministers agreed to urge the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and other multilateral institutions to make the strongest possible efforts to assist ravaged nations struggling with a tragedy that has left more than 150,000 people dead.

The relief would be available to countries that wish it.

"We would not expect debt payments from affected countries that request it until the World Bank and IMF have completed a full needs assessment of their reconstruction and financing requirements, recognising that some countries may be unable to make debt payments," the G7 said in a statement.

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Fears Tsunami Dead Could Rise Sharply

With health officials warning that the death toll of more than 140,000 from last month's tsunami could jump sharply without a continual supply of aid, world leaders struggled Thursday to figure out the best way to help victims and to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again.

Donors concluded an emergency one-day summit as relief workers scrambled to move aid to areas of Sumatra, the Indonesian island hit hardest by the earthquake and giant waves that crashed ashore Dec. 26. Volunteers hurled sacks of rice and instant noodles into trucks as U.S. helicopters loaded with other supplies buzzed overhead en route to isolated communities.

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Powell Horrified At Tsunami Scene

Destruction on Indonesia's tsunami-wracked Sumatra island is the worst U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has ever seen, the battle-seasoned war veteran said as he prepared for a meeting of world leaders to coordinate history's largest relief operation.

"I can not begin to imagine the horror that went through the families and all of the people who heard this noise and then had their lives snuffed out by this wave," Powell said Wednesday after flying over flattened villages along Sumatra's northern coast, which was home to two-thirds of the nearly 150,000 killed across Asia.

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