U.N.: Tsunami Aid Falling Short

The United Nations said governments have only given a fraction of the money they pledged for tsunami aid and warned that more cash is needed to fund long-term reconstruction efforts. In Sri Lanka (search), corruption allegations continued to hamper relief operations Tuesday.

The global body was also considering moving its base in Indonesia's worst-hit Aceh province because of security concerns. Al Qaeda-linked bombers have targeted Westerners in Indonesia (search) three times in the past three years.

Estimates of the number of people killed by the Dec. 26 tsunami (search) that struck 11 nations ranged from about 162,000 to 178,000 — most of them in Indonesia.

Another 26,000 to 142,000 are missing, but officials say it's too early to add them to the toll with bodies still being found. Indonesia said Tuesday it had found 1,055 more corpses, raising the country's confirmed death toll to at least 115,756.

The State Department said 18 U.S. citizens died in the disaster and that 15 others are presumed dead. Ten perished in Thailand and eight in Sri Lanka, said Adam Ereli, the deputy spokesman. Of the 15 presumed dead, 14 were in Thailand and one was in Sri Lanka.

New earthquakes rattled the region early Tuesday, but there were no reports of damage or injury. Temblors were felt in Taiwan and Papua New Guinea, which were unaffected by the disaster.

With the emergency phase of relief operations over, Japan said it will pull its relief troops out of Indonesia by the end of March, in line with Jakarta's wishes.

But hundreds of thousands of survivors are still in need and the United Nations begged governments to deliver promised aid.

Nations have pledged $977 million, but only $360 million has reached the world body's coffers, said Margareta Wahlstrom, special envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites).

"This is our key message to government donors: Please convert your pledges into hard cash in the bank. It's only cash in the bank that makes it possible to do work on the ground," she said Monday in Geneva.

Although the United Nations is not short of funds to maintain its humanitarian relief operations, it warned that money is still needed in the long run for reconstruction.

Governments "are very generous classically with food, health, and children, but they are very slow in filling us up on livelihoods and shelter," she said.

The State Department said last week that Washington has given nearly $119 million out of $350 million it has pledged in tsunami aid.

But in Sri Lanka, corruption was hampering aid operations. Officials have been accused of plundering relief supplies, demanding bribes from tsunami victims, and being drunk on duty.

Several people were suspended last week, with others under investigation.

The U.N. World Food Program will soon dispatch more food aid monitors to try to "abolish any corruption within the government system," coordinator Dawit Getachew said.

Dozens of tsunami survivors staged a noisy protest that disrupted traffic on a main road in a village near Colombo, accusing a village official of giving food and cash aid only to his supporters.

In Indonesia's Aceh province, security concerns prompted U.N. officials to consider relocating the base for the massive international relief effort there.

Joel Boutroue, U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator, said the United Nations "does not expect to be a target" of an attack. But he said the walled compound in Banda Aceh, where 100 aid workers live and work, had "structural weaknesses" and "is not optimal ... from a security perspective."