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Red Cross promise for tsunami victims' hospital unfulfilled

Hungary's Red Cross has yet to fulfill a promise to build a children's' hospital in Indonesia with several hundred million forints collected from donors who made contributions in the wake of the tsunami tragedy late in 2004, national daily Népszabadság reported on Thursday.

The charity planned to have the hospital ready by May this year but building has not even begun, said the paper. A 5,000 square metre plot was donated under an agreement with Indonesia's health ministry and HRC with the stipulation that the project would use local builders. Back in July 2005, however, Hungarian Red Cross President Georg von Habsburg announced that Hilfswerk Austria (HWA), a charity organization, would be involved in the scheme. HWA then selected Austria's Vamed Group as the general contractor for the project, and the planned completion date was shifted to November 2007.

The situation was further complicated when the Red Cross' Indonesian negotiation partner - who later turned out to be Vamed's and HWA's local representative in Indonesia - suggested an easier way to obtain the necessary permits would be to build a paediatric ward on to an existing hospital. Márta Nemesvári, HRC's vice president told the paper: "We did not collect all this money to have a ward in Hilfswerk's hospital." However, Von Habsburg said so far HRC had transferred Ft 89 million to HWA out of a total of 732 million, under an effective agreement. He added that construction had actually started on the new wing and further payments would be made in line with the completion of each component of the project. (