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.


Two monks shot dead as violence flares in Thailand’s deep south

Updated 10 min 48 sec ago
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Two monks shot dead as violence flares in Thailand’s deep south

  • Black-clad assailants carrying rifles crept into Rattanaupap temple in Narathiwat province on Friday evening and started firing
  • Human Rights Watch said the ‘ghastly’ assault on civilians in a place of worship amounted to a war crime

BANGKOK: Gunmen in Thailand’s deep south shot dead two Buddhist monks and wounded two others inside a temple, police said Saturday, capping a week of deadly violence as the prime minister vowed to “punish” those responsible.
Black-clad assailants carrying rifles crept into Rattanaupap temple in Narathiwat province near Malaysia’s border on Friday evening and started firing, local superintendant Pakdi Preechachon said.
“The attack took place around 7:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) when an unknown number of gunmen dressed in black entered the temple through a rear area via a creek,” Pakdi said.
“Two monks were shot dead at the temple while two others were wounded.”
Since 2004 clashes between ethnic Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state that annexed the region a century ago have killed nearly 7,000 people, mostly civilians of both faiths.
The death toll in the south dropped to a record low last year as Thailand’s junta tightened its security web but violence has boiled over in recent days, raising concerns about soft targets at schools and religious institutions.
In the past, Buddhist monks have rarely been targeted.
But they have been told to suspend morning alms collection starting from Saturday in three southern provinces and the southern army commander has instructed security officials to step up safeguards of Islamic leaders who could also be at risk.
Junta leader and prime minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha condemned the temple shootings.
“The prime Minister denounced such a brazen attack and instructed officials to investigate and find the assailants to punish them,” said government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta.
Human Rights Watch said the “ghastly” assault on civilians in a place of worship amounted to a war crime.
Last week, an imam in the same province was shot dead but it was unclear if the temple attack was related.
Friday’s shooting came the same day as four security officials were wounded by two separate roadside bombs and an insurgent was shot dead in a clash near a school that sent students home for the day.
Four civil defense volunteers were also killed in a drive-by shooting outside a school on January 10 in the south’s Pattani province, with security forces injuring a boy as they gunned down rebels believed to be responsible.
In a rare public statement dated January 4 the main Malay-Muslim rebel group — the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) — which has command and control over most of the insurgent foot soldiers, swore to “keep fighting.”
“Siam (Thailand) can’t hold out,” the BRN wrote, signing off with a warning: “Do not help and support Siam.”