Representatives of the International Organization for Migration and the Queensland, Australia government joined the Governor of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam yesterday to distribute front-door keys to the first of hundreds of new homes for tsunami-affected Acehnese civil servants.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie last week earmarked a $3 million donation to IOM to build homes for government employees whose residences were swept away by the Dec. 2004 tsunami.
"I'm very pleased to be here to mark another important day in the reconstruction of Aceh province," said Steve Cook, IOM's Chief of Mission in Indonesia. "The Governor first approached IOM about building 1,000 houses for civil servants several months ago. These are the front-line administrators in the reconstruction process."
Rob Wardrobe, Queensland's Commissioner in Indonesia, underlined the importance of supporting government employees, key players in the long-term rebuilding of Aceh province.
"This is the first time that the Queensland government has committed public money to an aid strategy such as this," Wardrobe said. "Being a government ourselves we realize how important it is to support the functions of the local government and the critical role their employees play in helping to normalize the situation for the people of Aceh."
Acting-Governor Azwar Abubakar oversaw the ceremonial hand-over of keys to the first 14 completed homes provided for staff at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration (Mobilitas) on Tuesday. The site is located just a short distance from their offices in the center of Banda Aceh.
"Thanks to Mr. Robert Wardrobe, the Queensland government and IOM for this assistance; it contributes to a sense of peace within our community," he said. "My friendship with Mr. Steve Cook goes back more than two years now. When we have needed help, IOM has been there for us."
Cook said he expects local civil servants to receive a quarter of the roughly 460 housing units IOM will complete before Indonesia's Independence Day holiday on Aug. 17.
IOM's province-wide damage assessment released last month concluded close to 90,000 private homes in Aceh and North Sumatra were either destroyed or significantly damaged by the tsunami and March 28, 8.7 magnitude earthquake.
In the weeks after the tsunami, the Indonesian government asked IOM to build 11,000 homes in Aceh province. The Organization is currently working with a dozen local contractors employing 5,000 people to produce roughly 300 units per week. Production is expected to reach 500 units per week by mid-September.
"It has taken a great commitment of time, energy and creativity to get to where we are today," Cook said. "In addition to building thousands of homes, we are opening schools and clinics, developing livelihood programs in 12 districts in Aceh and revitalizing Aceh's health system."
Paul Dillon, Press and Information Officer
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