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Former US President Clinton to visit Australian Red Cross housing project in Aceh

Thursday November 30, 2006

United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, former US President Bill Clinton, will visit an Australian Red Cross housing project in Aceh when he tours tsunami-affected regions over the coming weekend.

Nearly two years after the disaster which claimed more than 200,000 lives, President Clinton will tour tsunami reconstruction projects in India and Thailand, before visiting a transitional shelter village run by Australian Red Cross in Aceh which he describes as 'an example of the extraordinary effort by a coalition of international partners and the government to move all people in Aceh and Nias out of tents'.

About nine hundred men, women and children are now living relatively comfortably in 203 state of the art transitional shelters while permanent homes are constructed.

According to the United Nations, Australian Red Cross and Australian Indonesian Partnership for Reconstruction and Development who were jointly responsible for the project have set the benchmark on quality for transitional shelters, ensuring proper planning and a high standard for water and sanitation.

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner said the visit by President Clinton highlights the excellent work undertaken by Australian Red Cross in its tsunami recovery projects.

'We are proud that our response is and will continue to be professional and considered, and is being undertaken with extensive community consultation,' Mr Tickner said.

'Australian Red Cross works closely with Indonesian Red Cross and the local communities to make sure we are not building "ghost towns",' he said.

'We are now at the end of the second year of a rebuilding process that will take at least five years to complete.'

'Some Australian Red Cross projects are multi-million dollar construction and rehabilitation undertakings while others are smaller such as cleaning wells, harvesting rainwater, and building the capacity of local Red Cross people to respond to future disasters. All projects--large and small--are vital to ensure tsunami-affected communities can rebuild their lives, livelihoods and economies,' concluded Mr Tickner.