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Germany

Tsunami Relief All Positive Government Says

Around five months after the tsunami disaster in south Asia, Berlin presented an optimistic preliminary report. Over 200 partner initiatives have been started. The opposition believes the whole truth isn't being told.

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Christina Rau and Gerhard Schröder presented a positive report

Christina Rau, the wife of former German President Johannes Rau would have preferred a more optimistic occasion to make the headlines. Thanks though to her hard work as coordinator of tsunami relief efforts in Germany, aid progress for those countries most affected by last year's tsunami is encouraging.

Speaking before the cabinet in Berlin, Rau said the "exceptional" help for the regions let the people there know "that they can depend on Germany."

Noch mehr Tote in Banda Aceh

A sad reminder of the havoc wreaked on Dec. 26 in Banda Aceh

In his New Year's address, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had called for a partnership initiative with the devastated regions. He gave responsibility to coordinate these efforts to Rau on January 27. On Tuesday, she could report that 198 projects were up and running and another 250 were nearly ready to go.

Schröder underlined that the government's 85 million euros ($108 million) in immediate aid "was accepted very, very positively in the affected regions." Another 125 million in relief has been budgeted in 2005. In addition, Berlin is supporting the construction of an early-warning system in the Indian Ocean.

Opposition criticizes slow response

The generous response of the German people to the tsunami catastrophe was praised by all political parties. Up to 1,000 cities, companies and schools also have offered their help in the form of various projects for the region.

Yet the government has not properly used the unparalleled donations and support from the German people according to the opposition.

Christian Ruck

Christian Ruck, MP (CSU)

Christian Ruck of the Christian Democrats said that Schröder had not told the whole truth. In particular, he pointed out that the late release of financial aid allowed other countries to start helping "while the (German) government was wondering how everything should be financed." In turn, this damaged the affected countries' opinion of Germany. Ruck demanded faster and more streamlined relief efforts.

Future aid in the 100's of millions

Over 300,000 people lost their lives in the tsunami and the disaster has caused severe economic hardship for millions. The recovery effort is not just restricted to months or even a year, but it will be years before the communities most affected will be standing on their own.

In the next three to five years, Berlin has set aside 435 million euros to help the region. Germany will concentrate on reconstruction efforts in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Rau said the true "problem child" was Banda Aceh province in Indonesia. At least 125,000 people were killed and over 93,000 listed as missing in Indonesia, primarily in the revolt-battered region.

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