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Five-Year Tsunami Report highlights goals reached in relief and recovery efforts

JAKARTA/GENEVA, 24 December 2009 - Five years after an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a massive tsunami that spread throughout the Indian Ocean, UNICEF issued a report summarizing the results of its relief and recovery programmes in the eight affected countries.

The tragic events of December 26, 2004 caused destruction on an unprecedented scale. Nearly 230,000 people were killed — 160,000 in Indonesia’s Aceh Province alone — the majority of them women and children.  Communities were devastated, livelihoods destroyed, homes, schools and heath facilities washed away.  Yet the sheer scale of the Tsunami’s destruction – as well as the massive mobilization of resources received from international relief – provided many opportunities to restore basic services and build back better than before.

The international community pledged over USD 14 billion for the relief and recovery of tsunami affected countries, and UNICEF funds received for the Tsunami stand at USD 694.7 million, of which three quarters was raised from UNICEF’s National Committees.
As the report indicates, the opportunities to build back better presented themselves not only in the sphere of basic services – such as health, education and water and sanitation – but also in improving the security of communities vulnerable to natural disaster or violent conflict, and in providing greater security to vulnerable children.

© UNICEF Indonesia/Estey

In Indonesia, for example, “the unprecedented international response to the Tsunami created a unique opportunity to bolster the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement,” the report states, citing the peace agreement that was signed between the two parties in August 2005.  Beyond the effort to address immediate needs following the Tsunami, UNICEF’s reconstruction efforts focused on both Tsunami- and conflict-affected areas, a strategic decision designed to consolidate the peace reached in the aftermath of the Tsunami.

The report also highlights some of the important lessons learned from the Tsunami relief and recovery operations – not the least of which is ensuring that governments, international agencies and NGOs partners coordinate their relief activities, complementing each other rather than overlapping their efforts.  Another is ensuring that all stakeholders are better prepared to deal with emergencies as they occur. 

Recovery programmes in some countries have now drawn to a close, with ongoing recovery work handed over to the national authorities or integrated into existing programmes carried out by the UNICEF country offices. Due to the scale of the recovery required in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, UNICEF will continue to support reconstruction activities through the end of 2010.

 

 
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