Deadly floods bring Jakarta to near standstill

Updated 18 January 2013
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Deadly floods bring Jakarta to near standstill

JAKARTA: Waist-deep floods brought the Indonesian capital Jakarta to a standstill yesterday, with roads impassable and thousands of homes under water.
The muddy waters paralyzed the city, which is home to 20 million people and already notorious for its chaotic traffic. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was pictured in the whitewashed grounds of the presidential palace with his trousers rolled up to his knees.
“Jakarta is flooded, hopefully there won’t be too many victims,” he told photographers, ordering military, police, and disaster officials to ensure public safety.
The monsoonal floods had driven more than 19,000 people from their homes, according to Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, and reports said two people had been killed on Wednesday, a two-year-old boy who was swept away and a 46-year-old man who was electrocuted.
Some roads to the airport were blocked and while many businesses across the city were forced to close, traders at some markets remained open, piling clothes and goods out of reach of the dirty water.
In the heart of the city, luxury hotels and the French, German and British embassies were surrounded.
Motorists trying to avoid the deluge went off-road, driving along pavements and central reservations, and heading the wrong way down one-way streets. In some areas children punted rafts along the roads, which looked more like canals.
Office workers snapped photos of the snarling traffic, while commuters lofted their bags above their heads to wade through the waters, or hitched a lift on passing carts.
“Jakarta today is a huge swimming pool. Everyone’s playing in the rain, walking in the water and laughing. The downside is, I have no idea how to get home, I might have to walk back three hours,” 32-year-old administrative officer Yohanna, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name, told AFP.
Authorities raised the flood alert to its highest level early yesterday, national disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said, describing the city as “besieged.”
“The situation could get worse in the coming days as the rain shows little sign of abating,” he told AFP.
But as rescuers rushed to evacuate residents, Welfare Ministry spokesman Tito Setiawan said the situation was “under control.”
“That’s our priority. We have sent out trucks and rafts to move victims whose homes were inundated to temporary shelters. We will also provide food, water and humanitarian aid,” he said.
Indonesia is regularly afflicted by deadly floods and landslides during its wet season, which lasts around half the year. Many in the capital live beside rivers that periodically overflow.


More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

Updated 59 min 53 sec ago
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More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

  • Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
  • The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.