World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 billion in loans

A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving thousands more missing, presumed dead. (AFP)
Updated 14 October 2018
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World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 billion in loans

  • A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people
  • World Bank CEO suggests the fund could be used for reconstruction and preparedness for future disasters

NUSA DUA, Indonesia: The World Bank on Sunday announced funding of up to $1 billion for Indonesia after it was rocked by a string of recent disasters, including a deadly earthquake-tsunami that killed thousands.
CEO Kristalina Georgieva unveiled the funds at Indonesian holiday island Bali, where the Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been holding their annual meetings.
A 7.5-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami tore through Palu city on Sulawesi island on Sept. 28, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving thousands more missing, presumed dead.
Rescue teams scoured the wreckage for a fortnight before calling off the search for the dead, acknowledging as many as 5,000 missing people might never be found.
Georgieva said the funds being made available by the Bank in the form of loans could be used for reconstruction but were also intended to help Indonesia build “resilience,” so it would be better prepared in the face of future disasters.
“Disasters will continue to hit and with climate change there will be more,” said Georgieva, who visited Palu earlier this week.
“The best memorial we can build for the victims of disaster is to build better, so next time when a disaster hits fewer people are affected, fewer lives are lost, and there is less damage.”
Nearly 90,000 people were displaced by the quake in Palu, forcing them into evacuation centers across the rubble-strewn city.
Officials said it could be two years before all the homeless are found permanent accommodation.
Aid groups say a dearth of clean drinking water and medical supplies remains a very real concern for 200,000 people in urgent need.
Donations have begun pouring into the coastal city of 350,000 after a slow start which saw Indonesia criticized for stalling the flow of relief supplies.
The shallow 7.5-magnitude tremor was more powerful than a series of quakes this summer that killed more than 550 people on the Indonesian island of Lombok and neighboring Sumbawa.
Indonesia has been hit by a string of other deadly quakes, including a devastating 9.1-magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Sumatra in December 2004, killing 220,000 throughout the region, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati welcomed the pledge.
“This is not one earmark for a certain project, this is something that can be used by the government to support (people) during this uncertain time,” she said.
The funding was particularly important in the current economic climate, she said, “with much higher interest rates, tightening of liquidity, (it is) a much harder environment for us to get financing from outside.”
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth.
It lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.


Taliban under attack in Badghis province

In this file photo, Afghan National Army soldiers carry out an exercise during a live firing at the Afghan Military Academy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan officials say around 100 soldiers fled their posts and tried to cross into neighboring Turkmenistan during a weeklong battle with the Taliban, in the latest setback for the country's battered security forces. (AP)
Updated 40 min 47 sec ago
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Taliban under attack in Badghis province

  • Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan
  • In a statement, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed

KABUL: Afghanistan’s government launched a ground and air offensive on Monday to flush out Taliban insurgents from a key area in the northwestern province of Badghis, which is close to the border with Turkmenistan, officials said.

The focal point of the operation was the Bala Murghab district where, a few days ago, the Taliban had captured dozens of government forces in addition to overrunning several parts of the district, which serves as a gateway to the northern areas for the insurgents.

Several government troops fleeing the Taliban rampage crossed into neighboring Turkmenistan, officials said. 

One provincial official and a lawmaker from the province, who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that Turkmenistan was due to hand over the troops to Afghanistan on Monday.

Sayed Mohmmad Musa, a lawmaker from the province, said that hundreds of government troops have taken part in the operation, which had resulted in the deaths of several of the Taliban’s top commanders.

“Through the operation, the government wants to not only regain the control of the district, but is also trying to free those forces who either had to join the Taliban or were captured by them several days ago,” he said by phone.

“There is heavy fighting there and the government wants to end the Taliban threat because it is a strategic location,” he said.

Meanwhile, spokesmen for the defense and interior ministries did not answer repeated calls for comment about the government’s operation and about the Taliban’s rampage days ago.

In a statement released earlier, the ministry had said that 50 Taliban combatants had been killed.

There were conflicting reports about the number of troops who were captured by the Taliban and those who had fled to Turkmenistan, while the Taliban said 90 soldiers had surrendered.

The development comes amid continuing efforts in recent months by US diplomats and Taliban delegates for finding a peaceful settlement to the war. 

Both the Taliban and government forces, backed by the US military, have stepped up their attacks in a number of areas in the country.

Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst from Badghis, said the remoteness of the province, changes in the leadership of the ministry and confusion among troops about the peace process were some of the factors for the Taliban’s gains in Badghis.

“The time of US and Taliban formally announcing a deal has become closer; this has disheartened some troops in some parts of the country to keep on fighting,” Saeedi told Arab News.

Mirza Mohammed Yarmand, a military analyst and retired general, agreed. He told Arab News: “Unfortunately, the schism and differences among the political leaders of the country have caused disruption and slowness in the conduct of responsibilities of officers in the battlefield.”

He added: “Logistical shortcomings, the amount of attacks conducted by the enemy, (the government’s) failure to transport on time the war casualties from the battle ground and the amount of time officers spend in war zone, are among the reasons for incidents such as Bala Murghab.”

“When there is difference among the leaders that certainly impacts the moral of troops,” he said.