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Charity assesses tsunami reconstruction work

Charity officials assess reconstruction progress

(Keystone)

The Swiss Solidarity charity says nearly a year after the tsunami hit south Asia, relief work is running faster than expected and funds are being used up quickly.

The charity announced on Thursday it had so far approved 90 reconstruction projects valued at SFr122.3 million ($94.1 million) – the equivalent of SFr500,000 a day.

At a news conference in Bern, Swiss Solidarity - the fundraising arm of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo's parent company - said that projects worth another SFr34 million were currently being examined.

In several cases, Swiss Solidarity had also provided direct relief to Swiss affected by the disaster.

To date, the charity has received almost SFr226 million for victims of the undersea quake. The figure puts Switzerland top of the list of private donations per head of the population, ahead of Norway.

The director of Swiss Solidarity, Felix Bollmann, said that by the end of January 70 per cent of donations would be in use.

Record sum

"Despite the record sum, funds will be used up faster than we calculated," he said.

"While many asked if we did not have too much money, we now ask ourselves the opposite. Do we have enough in view of all the demands and needs?"

Andreas Blum, who is head of the project commission, said Swiss Solidarity was financing projects by 17 Swiss relief organisations and several other private relief campaigns in five countries – India, Indonesia, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The focus is on Sri Lanka (SFr46 million) and Indonesia (SFr40 million).

A total of SFr20 million has already been used for emergency and immediate relief as well as for initial temporary solutions.

It paid for tents, blankets, medicine, food, kitchen utensils, boats, fishing nets and tarpaulins.

On the spot

Most of the material was bought on the spot or in neighbouring countries.

Cash programmes are also running to lodge homeless people in private homes and for part of the clean-up and rebuilding work.

Those involved are registered by name and receive direct payment for their work, the charity said.

It explained that the rebuilding and development phase was now underway, including the construction of entire villages and many hundreds of houses, schools and hospitals.

Swiss Solidarity added that 4,500 traumatised children were receiving psychological care.

In other action, environmental measures are planned to replant mangroves and set up family allotments to create self-sufficiency.

And microcredits are encouraging the start-up of small businesses, while people who have lost their jobs are being offered retraining.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The tsunami struck on December 26 last year after a seaquake of around 9 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

It caused the deaths of 226,000 people and injured 125,000 others. About 2.3 million people were affected in one way or another.

One year later, Swiss Solidarity has already approved 90 reconstruction projects worth SFr122.3 million.

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