updated 11/30/2005 4:14:09 AM ET 2005-11-30T09:14:09

Former President Clinton on Wednesday promised survivors of last year’s devastating tsunami that the international community will stand by them long after the tragedy fades from the media spotlight.

Clinton, who was touring Indonesia’s devastated province of Aceh as the U.N.’s envoy for tsunami relief, made the comments after discussing recovery efforts with victims, aid workers and government officials.

He stopped briefly at a mass grave that is believed to contain thousands of bodies, bowed his head in prayer, and then headed to a crowded refugee camp in the flattened village of Kahju just outside the provincial capital.

“After the one year commemorations of the tsunami next month, the world attention might shift elsewhere,” said Clinton, who was surrounded by security on his third trip to the tsunami zone.

“But the attention of the international community, the U.N., national governments, and non-governmental organizations big and small, will stay with you until the work is done,” he said.

Devastation
The Dec. 26 tsunami killed at least 179,000 people in 11 countries, and left some 37,000 missing and hundreds of thousands homeless — the large majority of them in Aceh.

Many still live in tents that dot rubble-strewn lots along the province’s coastline. Others live in wooden or concrete temporary homes built by aid workers who poured into the region after the killer waves hit.

Clinton visited a camp that houses close to 1,000 people. He pointed at the roof of one of the wooden barracks and ducked inside, briefly escaping a light rain.

Clinton is on a whirlwind trip of the region to ensure that aid is being distributed fairly and efficiently, and to try keeping the world’s attention on tsunami recovery.

He arrived in Indonesian from Sri Lanka, where he praised reconstruction efforts and urged the government to seek peace with Tamil Tiger rebels.

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