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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 June 2005, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Tsunami remembered six months on
Damaged road in Aceh, Indonesia
Homes may need rebuilding, but so do many vital roads
People around the Indian Ocean have been marking six months since the earthquake and deadly tsunami that devastated a string of countries.

In Indonesia, which was worst hit, UN and World Bank officials joined local leaders and civilians for a ceremony.

About $13bn (7bn) was pledged in aid from around the world, although the pace of rebuilding has been slow and thousands of people remain homeless.

The tsunami hit in December, killing at least 200,000 people in 13 countries.

The United Nations has said that reconstruction work across the whole affected region will take up to five years, and could cost $9bn.

Donors thanked

At a ceremony in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh on Saturday, Bo Apslund, co-ordinating UN relief efforts in Aceh, insisted that victims were now seeing real improvements in their situation.

A child digs foundations for a new home in Galle, Sri Lanka
A whole new generation of orphans must start from scratch
"We're at a stage now [that] within the next month or so we'll really begin to see recovery and reconstruction changes physically in Aceh," he said.

Aid and reconstruction in Indonesia, where at least 128,000 people died and bodies are still being found, has been hampered by concerns over corruption and domestic political concerns.

But Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Indonesia's aid director for Aceh and Nias, where another deadly earthquake struck in March, said $2.8bn had been released by international donors.

Much is earmarked for 172 projects announced at the ceremony, including 30,000 houses, Mr Mangkusubroto added.

"We would like to thank the world, all volunteers, everybody - black, white, short, tall, men and women - for their assistance," he said.

Aid disputes

Away from Indonesia, efforts to rebuild lives shattered by the disaster are also facing challenges.

In Thailand, where tourist resorts are still lying almost empty six months on, a British forensic team is continuing a grim effort to identify up to 2,000 victims.

Disputes between Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lanka's national government held up agreement on Sri Lanka's approach to reconstruction.

Construction worker in Khao Lak, Thailand
In Thailand nearly 6,000 people died, half of them foreigners

Under a deal signed last week, the two camps agreed to share Sri Lanka's international aid to ensure that Tamil-controlled areas are not overlooked.

In rebel-controlled Vakarai near the eastern city of Batticaloa, locals collected tsunami debris for an exhibition which organisers said would help survivors overcome their pain.

They included school bags, books, shoes, tea cups - and even television parts - scattered by the waves were taken to the area's government school.

"The [aim]... is to bring out the psychological pressure of the survivors who are still suffering inside," Shanthi Sivanesan of the British-based charity Oxfam, said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

"We will have psycho-social workers at this centre to counsel them."

In Malaysia, where just 68 people died, aid has been slow to reach the coastal areas hit by the tsunami.

Villagers in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where 10,000 are though to have died, have complained that not enough is being done six months on.

Oxfam said this week that much of the international aid donated after the tragedy was distributed among wealthy landowners instead of to those worst hit.


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