World Bank allocates 8 million dollars to Indonesia's Aceh province

Jakarta (dpa) - The World Bank has allocated 8 million dollars to a community assistance programme in Indonesia's violence-ridden Aceh province in an effort to deepen the peace process, reports said Sunday.
The aid is a follow-up to an international conference last month in Tokyo that focused on the reconstruction of Aceh in light of the peace accord signed December 9 by the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), World Bank officer Scott Guggerheim told the state-run Antara news agency.

World Bank Indonesia representative Andrew Steer, U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce, E.U. representative Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Greco and Japanese Ambassador Yutaka Iimura were to visit Banda Aceh, 1,750 kilometres northwest of Jakarta, on Sunday to assess the province's development needs.

A host on international donors on December 3 pledged to help the province get back on its feet once the Indonesian government has signed a peace pact with the GAM separatists, theoretically ending a 26-year-old struggle for Acehnese independence.

The World Bank expects to double its annual aid to the resource-rich province of 4 million people to more than 15 million dollars once the programme gets underway in earnest.

"The World Bank will expand its support though its existing programme in Aceh to promote participatory development - a delivery mechanism which has been proven to be successful in reaching the poor,'' Steer told a recent news conference.

World Bank aid is expected to focus on working with local communities to rebuild schools, clinics and irrigation systems in Aceh's 5,000 villages, many of which have had no access to international aid for years because of security concerns in the province.

More than 11,000 people have died in Aceh over the past decade as a result of clashes between government and GAM troops as well as torture and revenge killings.

GAM's struggle for independence has been driven primarily by a sense of injustice over the way in which the petroleum-rich province has been exploited to the benefit of the Jakarta-based Indonesian government, with little direct economic dividends enjoyed by the Acehnese, according to observers. dpa pj wp

AP-NY-01-11-03 2204EST

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/11/2003 22:04:14


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