“Hunger and disease do not wait, we need your money now” – the United Nations’ stark warning to donor countries which have pledged billions to help victims of the Asian tsunami. The UN is hosting a conference in Geneva today to discuss a practical timetable for how, when and where to deliver aid to millions of people across the region. The countries hardest hit by the disaster say the resources of their armed forces are being severely stretched by the relief effort with supplies rotting at airports while awaiting clearance.
In Indonesia, aid agencies say their work could be disrupted by a conflict between the government and rebels over the Aceh province. Relief groups in Sri Lanka have also expressed similar fears that commanders on the ground could seize much needed emergency equipment.
The European Union’s development commissioner, Louis Michel, and senior ministers from Britain, France and Germany are all attending the Geneva summit. UN officials believe the aid process is transparent, but many remain mindful of criticism over alleged mismanagement of the oil-for-food programme in Iraq. Delegates at the Geneva summit will also be warned of the dangers of neglecting a string of other humanitarian crises around the world.