Indian Ocean Tsunami
UNICEF has always worked in emergencies. Originally called the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, the organisation was created to provide humanitarian assistance to children living in a world shattered by the Second World War. Much has changed since then, but our fundamental mission has not. UNICEF remains dedicated to protecting children affected by disasters, no matter how difficult the circumstance.
The impact of the 26 December 2004 tsunami that struck several countries in the Indian Ocean was much less destructive in Malaysia than in other affected countries. The western coastline bore the brunt of the impact affecting Penang and Kedah, and to a lesser degree Perlis and Perak.
Though its impact was much smaller than that of its neighbours, the tsunami was in fact Malaysia’s worst natural disaster in history and claimed 69 lives and left an additional 8,700 Malaysians (mainly women and children) from the coastal fishing inlets in Kedah (including Langkawi) and Penang without homes and livelihoods.
While the immediate physical needs of the people were quickly met by the Government, the tsunami revealed a limited capacity within communities to provide for a broader protective environment for children and women, both immediately after the disaster as well as in their everyday lives.
In response, UNICEF facilitated partnerships with Government, NGOs and academia to build the psychosocial capacity and resilience of communities that were affected.