Tsunami anniversary marks a year of emergencies for children

© UNICEF/ HQ05-0207/Tom Pietrasik
A Grade 10 student writes in an exercise book in C.W.W. Kannangara College in the southern district of Galle, Sri Lanka.

NEW YORK, USA, December 2005 – Issuing a one-year update on its recovery efforts in countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, UNICEF says 2005 has been an unprecedented year of emergencies for children, with an extraordinary series of natural disasters, food crises, and conflicts tearing at the fabric of life for tens of millions of people.

From the dozen countries struck by the tsunami to the conflict zone of Darfur; from nutrition emergencies in Niger and Malawi to crop failures in Ethiopia and Eritrea; and from the devastating Atlantic hurricane season to the epic Pakistan earthquake, UNICEF says it had not responded to such an array of humanitarian emergencies in a single year in recent memory.

In Building Back Better, a one-year update on its continuing effort to help rebuild children’s lives in the tsunami zone, UNICEF says that while millions of people have been kept healthy and children are largely back in school, the real process of rebuilding is just beginning.

“The work is far from over,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman writes in her introduction to the report. “Almost 12 months later, tens of thousands of families are still in temporary encampments and the process of rebuilding is really just beginning to move from conference rooms and drawing boards to bricks and mortar.”

© UNICEF Sri Lanka/2005/Posings
Thanks in part to a swift response by UNICEF and its partners, no child has died post-tsunami as a result of displacement-related diseases.
In the report, UNICEF details its work, in conjunction with governments and a wide array of partners, to support children in their recovery, including building temporary schools, rehabilitating water systems, organizing family care for children who lost their parents, and keeping children healthy through immunization and other health initiatives. 

“After less than one year of work, UNICEF has spent about a third of the $626.6 million we received from donors around the world,” the report says. “UNICEF’s spending in this first phase has focused on basic supplies, temporary construction, training and capacity-building and, vitally, on mobilizing UNICEF’s experienced staff of experts who live in the affected areas and make the relief effort happen.”

Despite progress, however, UNICEF says a long road remained ahead for the victims of the tsunami.  UNICEF says it will continue its work in the tsunami zone and all the other humanitarian emergency locales as long as it has funding. 

Read the full text of Building Back Better: A 12-month Update on UNICEF’s Work to Rebuild Children’s Lives and Restore Hope since the Tsunami [PDF].

Read Children and the Tsunami, A Year On: A Draft UNICEF Summary of What Worked [PDF].



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Dan Thomas reports on UNICEF’s efforts over the last 12 months to help children affected by the tsunami.

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Official updates

Children and the Tsunami, A Year On:
A Draft UNICEF Summary of What Worked [PDF]