The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
For many years, Indonesia's Aceh province has been the scene of fighting between government forces and radical Islamic separatists. But today, the province on the island of Sumatra is the destination for a virtual army of relief workers from many countries, including the United States. James Kunder is the U.S. Agency for International Development assistant administrator for Asia and the Near East:
"We have established partners on the ground, N-G-O's, so we're also working with those nongovernmental organizations. The U-N agencies, which have their own substantial programs, like UNICEF, like the World Food Program, like the World Health Organization, also have assessment teams going out. We're trying to coordinate this range of international assessment teams."
Aceh was near the epicenter of the undersea earthquake that caused giant tsunamis, or tidal waves, that took the lives of more than one-hundred-thirteen thousand Indonesians. Nepa Andriani, an Indonesian high school student, told the Washington Post newspaper she has never seen so many foreigners before. She said, "They can help the Acehnese people." And, Irfan Junaidi, a columnist for Republika, an Islamic newspaper published in Indonesia, wrote that the U.S. troops in his country are "very sweet and humane." He adds, "There's nothing wrong with that."
The Indonesian government estimates that as a consequence of the tsunamis, more than eighty-percent of Aceh province's roads were destroyed, less than one percent of the sanitation infrastructure is working, eighty-percent of electricity-producing facilities were destroyed, and nearly eighty-thousand phone lines remain damaged.
The United States is committing three-hundred-fifty-million dollars to help the survivors of the tsumanis in Aceh and elsewhere. As the people of this devastated region "struggle to recover," says President George W. Bush, "America will be there to help."