Mon, 12 Sep 2005


UNICEF to start building Aceh schools

The Jakarta Post Banda Aceh

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will soon start the construction of hundreds of school buildings in tsunami-hit Aceh and Nias Island.

The UN agency on Friday signed an agreement here with the Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh and Nias to start the construction of 350 new school buildings and repair 200 damaged or old school buildings worth US$90 million. The construction work will start this month and is expected to be completed in 2007.

The agreement was signed by UNICEF representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano and agency head Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.

Antara reported that some 230 new school buildings would be set up in Aceh, which bore the brunt of the Dec. 26 tsunami that killed more than 130,000 people and left half a million people homeless in the area. The remainder will be developed in North Sumatra's Nias.

The plan to start the reconstruction work comes amid improving security conditions in Aceh after the government signed a long- awaited peace deal with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) on Aug. 15.

Despite the huge amount of tsunami aid pledged by foreign donors, reconstruction work in Aceh had been slowed by security concerns.

Rotigliano said UNICEF was committed to helping reconstruct school buildings in Aceh.

The UN body had met many times with officials and informal leaders before it started the reconstruction work. Consultation was crucial to help ensuring the buildings would be accepted by the local people, particularly the children, Rotigliano said.

UNICEF previously set up some 200 temporary schools across Aceh to allow children living in makeshift camps to immediately resume school activities.