16th May 2022

EU to commemorate tsunami victims

The European Union will hold a three-minute silence at 12pm (11am GMT) today to commemorate the victims of the tsunami as the official death toll rises to around 150,000.

The EU is asking "the whole of the European Union to observe three minutes of silence in order to show solidarity and mourn the victims of the disaster," said a European Commission spokesperson on Tuesday (4 January).

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Several European Commissioners plus the head of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, will conduct the commemoration silence, ten days after the disaster in south east Asia, in the heart of the EU district in Brussels.

José Manuel Durão Barroso, the head of the Commission, will not be present as he is travelling to Jakarta for an emergency donors' conference. He will be accompanied by Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg prime minister and current head of the EU.

Most EU countries and their citizens are expected to hold the silence however Denmark has already said it will not participate because it held a two-minute silence on Sunday.

Today's action comes as the death toll climbs even higher and there are fears that the real number of lives lost will never be known.

500m euro from Germany

The EU countries affected by the disaster are struggling to come to terms with their losses.

Germany, which may have lost up to 1000 of its citizens, is today expected to pledged 500m euro in aid for the tsunami victims.

In Sweden, the EU country that suffered the most losses, the first dead bodies have been flown back to Stockholm.

The prime ministers of Sweden, Norway and Finland are planning a joint visit to Thailand beginning 16 January.

On Friday (7 January), the 25 EU foreign ministers will gather in Brussels to co-ordinate aid to the region.

The European Commission has pledged 23m euro.

There has also been discussion about whether to put a freeze on foreign debt owed by countries hit by the tsunami disaster.

This idea has been pushed by UK finance minister Gordon Brown as the UK is the current president of the G8 group of leading industrialised countries.

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