Six months on – so much to do

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Six months after a December 26 tsunami hit the Indian Ocean and devastated much of Southeast Asia and East Africa, the disaster-torn region is still recuperating with the aid of international relief organizations and the assistance of millions of people around the globe.

The tsunami, which took over 200,000 lives in 13 countries, was triggered by a 9.15 earthquake, the largest to hit the region in over 40 years. Indonesia suffered the greatest loss, with an estimated 168,000 deaths in the country’s Aceh region alone. The same fault line triggered a subsequent 8.7 earthquake in March, which had thousands of terrified citizens fleeing to higher ground for safety

Over 40 countries have committed to the relief effort, providing food, water and shelter to the survivors of the devastated region, according to the United Nations. Billions of dollars have been pledged, with private global donations amounting to $4.5 billion and government and multilateral agencies supplying $6.9 billion in aid. Millions of Americans have given more than $1 billion in private donations, while millions more around the world have also contributed to those in need.

“The tragedy brought the world closer together,” former President Bill Clinton said in a statement issued Thursday. “For a period of time, everyone focused on saving lives without regard to nationality, politics or anything else. But while the immediate relief effort was unprecedented in its scope, we cannot underestimate the enormity of the job that remains.”

“Our work to help these nations will be a marathon for us,” he continued. “But we have to run that marathon at a sprinter’s pace, moving in a coordinated and accountable manner, to accomplish our mission. Many millions of lives depend on our efforts over the next year.”

In April, Clinton