Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

UNICEF’s Martin Bell says tsunami disaster unlike anything he has ever seen

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© UNICEF UK/2005/Bull
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Martin Bell amid wreckage on Sri Lanka’s east coast

NEW YORK, 13 January 2005 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Martin Bell is in Sri Lanka to see firsthand the devastation caused by December’s tsunami. He has been visiting camps in eastern Sri Lanka where people have been living since their homes and villages were destroyed.

Mr. Bell, who has had a long and distinguished career as a foreign correspondent for the BBC, said the situation was unlike any disaster he had ever witnessed, even in wartime. When asked to describe how the tsunami disaster was unique, he replied: “Just the sheer force of what happened, and the total devastation... and the miracle conditions for anyone to have survived.”

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF UK/2005/Bull
Children find fun at a camp for people whose homes were destroyed by the tsunami

One such miracle happened for a two-year-old boy discovered alive by the seashore 48 hours after the tsunami struck. He was taken in by a local family which has, with UNICEF’s assistance, began official adoption proceedings. “This is an example of the way people are helping each other to a quite extraordinary degree,”  Mr. Bell said.

“I’ve been most impressed with two things; one is the speed with which the relief agencies are getting to grips with this unprecedented disaster and the other has been the extraordinary patience and cheerfulness of the people themselves and the extent to which they’re helping themselves,” he added.

In Sri Lanka, UNICEF is delivering 100,000 household kits for displaced families, 3,393 school-in-a-box kits and large quantities of additional school supplies. The organization is constructing nearly 700 latrines and providing support and protection for unaccompanied children in camps for people left homeless by the disaster. In addition it has mobilized teams to identify and register all unaccompanied and separated children.


 

 

Audio

7 January 2005:
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Martin Bells talks about the devastation he saw in Sri Lanka

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