Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Visit Indonesia

Published January 01, 2005

| Associated Press

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Saturday he will visit tsunami-devastated Indonesia to work with regional leaders to help coordinate aid and relief efforts on the ground.

Annan said he will attend a regional meeting there Thursday, but it wasn't clear how long he would stay.

"I will go to Jakarta to launch the appeal from there and work with the leaders of the region who are also determined to play a role," Annan said in an interview being aired Sunday on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

Annan estimated it may take the region five to 10 years to recover and billions of dollars.

"This is the largest disaster we have had to deal with," he said. "People need shelter. They need food. They need health, sanitation, clean water. ... And then, of course, there's the whole reconstruction of not only of houses, but of the infrastructure and schools and all that that has been destroyed. So the international community is going to have to support some of these countries."

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland told reporters that the $2 billion in international pledges exceeded donations promised for all other humanitarian appeals by the United Nations in 2004 combined.

But Egeland warned that relief efforts were hampered by the destruction of roads, ports and airfields, saying it would take many days before food, water, medicine and other supplies reach affected areas.

"The biggest constraints are the logistical bottlenecks by far," he said. "In Banda Aceh, northern Sumatra, but also in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, we have big logistical problems."

The death toll reported by individual nations has surpassed 123,000 but Egeland has estimated that it will likely reach 150,000.

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