|© UNICEF video|
|Child care centres like this one on Sriboya Island, Thailand, give children a chance to play and have fun. They also give them a head start on school, through early childhood development activities.|
More than 5,000 people lost their lives along Thailand’s south-eastern coast in the widespread devastation brought on by the tsunami waves. To this day 3,000 people are still missing and more than 2,000 people live in temporary shelters. UNICEF and its partners were quick on the scene providing emergency food, water, health care supplies and shelter. About 150, 000 children have benefited from UNICEF-supported interventions, which include education and child protection. The relief effort continues today, focusing on long-term rehabilitation.
On the eve of the first anniversary of the tsunami, UNICEF Representative in Thailand Inese Zalitis reflects on the post-tsunami situation in the country. In this interview she explains the progress made so far and the country’s long-term needs.
BANGKOK, Thailand, December 2005 – “The impact was huge in Thailand. Six provinces were hit – and it was both infrastructure damage and houses and communities and boats. The toll and impact on human lives was very high. Very few [people] have been able to go back and build up their communities and that means that, for children living under these conditions, of course, their whole lives have been disrupted.
“One issue we could do for them was to bring them to schools as quickly as possible, and the Thai Government actually managed that very well. UNICEF supported that effort with construction, with sports equipment, with books, with playground equipment – to install some sense that life is normal although everything is actually upside down.
“One of the most important issues now is to make sure that families in the affected provinces can get an income soon and some kind of restitution of livelihood because, until they have that, they will rely on handouts, on some kind of social support which cannot be sustained in the long run."
Sabine Dolan contributed to this piece.
Tsunami stories from Thailand
Children and the Tsunami, A Year On:
A Draft UNICEF Summary of What Worked [PDF]