Bribes, extortion, and other illegal payments that truck drivers pay on the road connecting Banda Aceh and the capital of neighboring North Sumatra province, Medan, constitute a major cost to doing business in Aceh and have a substantial impact on tsunami reconstruction.
In May 2005, the U.S. Congress appropriated $908 million for tsunami relief, reconstruction, and related programs. Some $327 million was budgeted for immediate needs after the disaster struck, and $496 million for longer-term reconstruction ($349 million in Indonesia and $85 million in Sri Lanka), administered by USAID.
While businesses and governments begin to invest in biofuels and unconventional petroleum sources such as oil sands, a more traditional source of energy—coal—is also receiving international attention as an oil replacement.
Villagers in Somalia now routinely speak of events like the “war of the well” and refer to the “warlords of water”—those who control access to scarce water as a result of their violent and unscrupulous tactics.
The government has granted new concessions to five timber companies, in addition to 13 companies that already held concessions. Aceh has remaining forest areas of 3.3 million hectares, including 638,000 hectares designated as production forests.
The peace agreement between the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) stipulated that a new Aceh governing law be passed by March and elections be held in April. Although the slow pace of parliamentary deliberations has meant that both deadlines have been missed, the peace process remains on track.
Greg Holland, a leading storm researcher at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, says that while tropical storm anomalies in the 1940s and 1950s can be explained by natural variability, the wind and warmer water conditions that fuel storms that form in the Caribbean are now “increasingly due to greenhouse gases.”
In a report, the human rights organization says that the government failed to stop attacks by armed Sinhalese mobs in Trincomalee district; the attacks occurred after an alleged Tamil Tiger bomb there killed 5 persons.