U.N. reviewing Indonesia aid restrictions

Jan. 12, 2005 at 4:43 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The United Nations is seeking clarification from Indonesia on whether new security restrictions would hamper tsunami relief operations.

The director of the Coordination and Response Division of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Kevin Kennedy, said Wednesdsay Indonesia's restrictions must not harm the relief effort in a region that claimed more than two-thirds of the 160,000 tsunami deaths reported so far.

Indonesian authorities said aid workers need to seek permission to move outside the Banda Aceh and Meulobah areas and be accompanied by military escort on the western side of hard-hit Sumatra.

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlstrom, in Banda Aceh, was meeting with authorities to assess "what exactly it means and what impact it may have on our operations" in a province torn by decades of war with separatists, Kennedy said.

"We certainly well understand that there has been a conflict in Aceh," he said. "However we are concerned that any requirements that would create any additional bottlenecks or delays or otherwise adversely affect our operations need to be viewed very carefully."

Kennedy said relief operations in Sumatra continue to accelerate in response to the Dec. 26 disaster.

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