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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

In Maldives the situation for survivors is bleak

© UNICEF Maldives/2005
Floodwaters put children at risk for contracting water-borne diseases.

MALE, Maldives, 5 January 2005 - The 1,200 coral islands of the Maldives were hit hard by the tsunami that struck on December 26. Both the islands’ inhabitants and ecosystems have been devastated. Some of the country’s uninhabited islands were completely washed away and over 100,000 people, one-third of the country’s population, have been gravely affected.

“The current situation is very bad. Life came to a standstill when the tsunamis hit the Maldives,” says UNICEF Assistant Representative Tom Bergmann-Harris. “One in five islands is without any water supply and one in three schools is damaged or completely destroyed, leaving more than 29,000 children without access to school,” adds Mr. Bergmann-Harris.

Around 82 people are reported to have been killed in the tidal waves. For the survivors the situation is bleak. The tsunamis destroyed 14 per cent of the islands’ sanitation systems and the health infrastructure has been severely damaged, leaving about 500 pregnant women without access to delivery facilities.

© UNICEF Maldives/2005
Floodwaters in the capital city of Male.

Immediately after the tsunami stuck, about 1,000 survivors, including 200 children, were evacuated to the capital Male. UNICEF provided them with basic supplies, food, water, and clothing.

Many of the evacuated children had witnessed devastating scenes of destruction. “UNICEF is very concerned with the children and women of Maldives, because all have been affected, and many have been traumatized. Our focus is health, education and child protection,” said Mr. Bergmann-Harris.

“For a more medium term intervention, we will be focusing on establishing the water and sanitation systems, and trying to bring education back to the children’s lives. We are confident that with the construction of the temporary schools, education can resume in about four weeks,” he added.

The government has reported that the impact of the tsunami has set back development in the Maldives by two decades.




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