Maldives to show Annan how paradise was lost
MALE: The Maldives is preparing to receive UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and show him how one of Asia’s most exclusive tourist destinations was laid to waste by tsunamis two weeks ago.
Annan will make the first visit by a UN secretary general to this low-lying atoll nation of 1,192 coral islands scattered about 850 kilometres across the equator.
“This is the first visit by a secretary general,” government spokesman Ahmed Shaheed said. “We would have preferred it under different circumstances but we want to show him the destruction at two islands south of here.”
Ahmed said Annan would arrive on Sunday and be flown to the far-flung island of Kolhufushi, an hour from the capital Male by plane, where all 878 inhabitants have lost their homes and been forced to sleep in traditional fishing boats known as the dhonis. The death toll in the Maldives is 82 while 26 people are still reported missing, but the authorities estimate they need at least 1.5 billion for urgent relief and reconstruction work in the nation of more than 300,000 Sunni Muslims. afp