Tsunami survivors yesterday began their second month since the epic disaster across southern Asia, with signs that many are frustrated over their slow return to normal life. \n"We have not received any assistance yet," read a banner strung between plastic tents housing survivors in Sri Lanka's southern coastal city of Galle. \nLeading British charity Oxfam said that too many aid organizations without adequate skills are complicating the relief work. \nIn Sri Lanka, Oxfam said, some new houses are being built too close together, leading to potential sanitation problems. \nContributions Pending \nThe aid group also said governments have contributed only half the US$977 million emergency aid requested by the UN even though they pledged US$912 million for the immediate aftermath of the massive Dec. 26 quake and the tsunami it spawned in the Indian Ocean. \nIn rebuilding Indonesia's worst-hit province of Aceh, environmentalists are warning aid groups not to use wood illegally logged from the province's dense tropical forests, which were left largely untouched by the disaster. \nThey say illegal logging could upset the ecosystem and cause more natural disasters by sparking landslides. \nNew Zealand ordered an investigation yesterday into reports that first appeared in the US magazine Newsweek that its air force relief flights out of Aceh ferried refugees forced to pay bribes to Indonesian officials to flee the devastation. \nThe flights to Jakarta were supposed to carry people that Indonesian officials said needed urgent evacuation, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said. \nBribery \nHe ordered officials to take up the issue with Indonesian authorities, adding he was confident New Zealanders were not involved in bribery. \nA month after killer waves swept away more than 140,000 lives and ravaged coastlines around the Indian Ocean, survivors on Wednesday quietly remembered the tragedy and carried on with the struggle to rebuild their lives. \nSri Lankans lit candles and chanted prayers for the dead, and mourners on a Thai island launched two new fishing boats in a first step toward rebuilding the devastated local fleet. \nIn Indonesia's Aceh, there were no memorials. Instead, officials said a proper remembrance was to send children back to school for the first official classes since the tragedy. \nThe students found schoolrooms full of dirt, and that most of their classmates were gone forever. \nThe disaster's full death toll is still unknown -- and probably never will be. Workers still discover bodies daily, and many more victims were washed out to sea. \nDiffering government tallies in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the two hardest hit countries, have put the total number of dead in 11 countries between 144,000 and 178,000. As many as 147,000 people are missing -- many of them presumed dead -- raising the possibility that more than 300,000 died. \nBut remarkable stories of survival continue to emerge. \nIn his first interview since being rescued on Jan. 19, Michael Mangal, a 40-year-old Nicobarese tribesman, described his 25-day ordeal as he prayed and waited for death after the tsunami killed everyone else on his tiny island. \nHe lived on coconut milk and meat, thought of the now-missing woman he loved, and fretted about bad spirits. \nFinally one day, he heard the chugging of a distant motor boat. He took off his underwear and waved to the men who would rescue him, dazed and naked. \n"I thought I would die, and worse than that, I would die all alone," the coconut farmer told reporters in the interview. \nHe's made friends at a relief camp at a nearby island, but his heart is elsewhere, intent on returning even without knowing how he'll survive. \n"I want to go home," he said.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for