Indonesia tsunami aid blockages fixed - UN

News and Press Release
Originally published
JAKARTA, July 15 (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Friday international aid was flowing smoothly to tsunami-hit areas of Aceh, denying reports of large numbers of containers languishing on Indonesian wharfs.

Michael Whiting of the UN Joint Logistics Centre in Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra island said early blockages were largely due to the inexperience of many non-government aid groups which flocked to the region after the Dec. 26 disaster.

"It's well within manageable proportions now," Whiting said.

"Everyone has been extremely cooperative and we are all focused on the same thing. Get the stuff to the people who need it as quickly as we can," he told Reuters.

The international community has pledged billions of dollars in aid to tsunami-hit regions around the Indian Ocean, with the lion's share going to Indonesia.

Some media reports in recent weeks have pointed to hold ups in aid delivery.

The elimination of red tape and the prevention of corruption has been a major concern for donors in the world's fourth most populous nation.

Whiting, who is responsible for aid logistics in Sumatra, said that in April a backlog of some 1,500 containers had built up on the docks at Medan's main Belawan port, but that as of July 12 there were only 300 containers of aid, half of which had been there for only a week.

"Everyone was pointing the finger at the Indonesian government," Whiting said of the earlier backlog.

"In fact, when I looked into it, they'd done everything they could to make it work and it pointed more to the lack of logistic capacity in the NGO community. They didn't know what a bill of loading was and so on."

At the height of the emergency relief effort there were more than 180 non-government aid groups operating in the isolated Indonesian province.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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