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Aceh infrastucture damage hampers aid effort -

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Aceh infrastucture damage hampers aid effort

Reporter: Heather Ewart

HEATHER EWART: Among the Christian-based international aid organisations on the ground in Aceh is
World Vision. The Asia Pacific manager of World Vision is Conny Lenneberg, and I spoke to her a
short time ago. Conny Lenneberg, are you able to move freely around Aceh, or are there no-go zones
dictated by the Indonesian Government?

CONNY LENNEBERG (WORLD VISION ASIA PACIFIC MANAGER): No, we're able to move freely around the city
of Banda Aceh and several of the locations along the west coast. The only impediments to movement
at the moment are the destruction of infrastructure. The roads are closed and we're unable to
access the west coast, where there's been a lot of damage, because the roads are still closed, and
there's limited options to fly down there.

HEATHER EWART: We're getting reports back here that you are being restricted in your movements by
the Indonesian Government. Are you saying that's not the case?

CONNY LENNEBERG: We haven't experienced that. We were last night advised by the coordination
meeting that the Indonesian Government is asking us to advise them when we move out of the city of
Banda Aceh, and that's because of their concerns about our security, but they are inviting us to do
assessments of the west coast and start responding to the needs of those communities down there
that, to date, we haven't really been able to reach.

HEATHER EWART: Do you feel that you are going to be able to deliver aid to those areas most in
need, as it stands at the moment?

CONNY LENNEBERG: At this stage, we feel very confident we're able to do that. We've been invited to
come in by the Indonesian Government. There's a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions here,
and there's desperate need, and it really requires a very large and coordinated response of the
international community to address the basic needs of people and to look at the longer-term
recovery. So what we're experiencing is very much cooperation and a welcome from the Indonesian
Government for us to be here.

HEATHER EWART: On that point - do you feel safe, because Indonesian authorities have spoken of
their concerns about militancy in the region?

CONNY LENNEBERG: It's been an area of a longstanding conflict, and so when we move into these areas
as outsiders, we need to be very sensitive to that context. We're working with our local
counterpart, World Vision Indonesia, which has obviously a very good understanding of their country
and very good relationships with the government with a whole range of organisations, and so at this
stage, we're feeling very comfortable working here.

HEATHER EWART: Can you explain how the aid effort is working there at the moment, in very difficult
circumstances?

CONNY LENNEBERG: At the moment, I'm here doing assessments and providing overall programming,
strategic programming for the longer term here for World Vision's program, and the assessments are
demonstrating that we're really responding to basic needs within the city. So there are small
groups of internally displaced people around mosques and other public institutions, and we're
obviously getting the food and water and starting to meet the shelter needs of these communities,
but we really now need to look at the longer-term livelihood response, more permanent shelters,
because people are living under tarps. There's a monsoon season here, so it's incredibly wet. In
terms of getting further outside of Banda Aceh, we're not able to access very much beyond the
immediate surrounds of the city without helicopters and boats, and so that's proving a real
challenge. The UN went down the west coast about two days ago and has given a security clearance,
and that's really the point at which the other agencies can start going in to assess the needs and
respond to the basic needs of those communities. So food, water, sanitation, health care is the
immediate priority along the west coast now.

HEATHER EWART: How are you dealing with complaints there from some Islamic militants that you have
a western Christian-type agenda?

CONNY LENNEBERG: We deal with that by being very transparent and talking about our history. World
Vision has one objective for being in Aceh, and that is to respond to the desperate needs of the
community that's been devastated by this tsunami. It's an unbelievable devastation when you go down
to the coastline and you see areas that are completely flattened, and 10 days after this tsunami,
they're still clearing bodies, and people are bewildered about how to really begin the recovery
phase, and so as long as we remain focused on that objective, people are understanding that, and we
as an organisation, as all aid agencies, need to be sensitive to the local situation and ensuring
that we're working in partnership with the local people.

HEATHER EWART: So you feel quite welcome at the moment?

CONNY LENNEBERG: Very welcome. We have two houses, and I was walking between them for a couple of
blocks just very early in the evening, and people were saying to me, "Welcome, welcome here", and
that's what I'm hearing from others around the city as well. There's no sense of threat within
Banda Aceh.

HEATHER EWART: Are you in for the long haul?

CONNY LENNEBERG: World Vision is certainly here for 5 to 10 years. The recovery phase and
rehabilitation phase of this natural disaster is going to be really long term. So within a few
weeks, hopefully, we'll have much better supply lines to meet basic needs, but to begin recovering
- the fishing industry is destroyed, a lot of the business sectors are destroyed here. We're
hearing that the geography along the coast is destroyed. Many communities have been absolutely
decimated. So what we don't know is how many communities want to stay here. People are moving away
because of the trauma. Last night we were all shaken out of bed by a fairly substantial earthquake
at 5 in the morning, and we all ran outside, and you could just hear wailing around the city.
People are still incredibly traumatised. So the issues about how you address that in the long term
and rebuild the economy and the infrastructure that's been destroyed are enormous. We've heard that
most of the health centres are destroyed, many of the schools are damaged and destroyed, roads and
bridges are out, and of course, housing is just completely decimated.

HEATHER EWART: Well, thank you very much for joining us, and good luck with your efforts.

CONNY LENNEBERG: Thanks very much, Heather.