Funding relief in Indonesia

Amy Scott May 29, 2006

SCOTT JAGOW: Indonesia is no stranger to human suffering. Tsunamis, bird flu outbreaks, terrorist bombings. And now, a major earthquake. Saturday’s 6.3 quake killed at least 5,000 people. Many more are injured and homeless. And so Indonesia again needs help from the US and the rest of the world. But will there be enough aid? And will it get there in time?

From the Frank Stanton Studios in Los Angeles, I’m Scott Jagow, filling in for Kai Ryssdal. It’s Monday, May 29. Good to have you with us on this Memorial Day.

By truck and by plane, emergency aid arrived in Indonesia today. Water, tents, medical supplies. But there isn’t nearly enough to go around yet. 88 pounds of rice for 1,200 people? That kind of thing. But as Marketplace’s Amy Scott tells us, more help is on the way.

AMY SCOTT: Relief workers have been battling heavy rain and damaged roads in the Jogjakarta region of Java. Officials say they have too few tents and too little food for the estimated 200,000 people now homeless. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is trying to raise close to $10 million for its own efforts. Spokesman Jean-Luc Martinage says money from governments and private donors is pouring in.

JEAN-LUC MARTINAGE: What we know so far is 86 percent of this appeal has been covered already, so I must say that we are very happy with the initial response of the international community.

The US government’s initial $2.5 million pledge seemed to pale next to contributions from much smaller countries. Saudi Arabia pledged $5 million. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates each promised $4 million. But Wayne Forrest with the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce says Americans have built up a reserve of good will in the region.

WAYNE FORREST: Going back to the tsunami, the amount of assistance that the United States provided was huge. And that gave a huge lift to American perception in Indonesia. And I don’t think this is the end of US assistance at this point.

Forrest says it’s still early to guess the earthquake’s economic toll. Jogjakarta is Java’s cultural epicenter. And the tourism industry has already suffered from fears of terrorist attacks. One major attraction, the world’s largest Buddhist monument Borobudur, reportedly survived intact.

The Indonesian government has promised to spend more than $100 million to rebuild over the next year.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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