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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Secretary General looks to the future of the survivors

© UNICEF Maldives/2005
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (left), along with his wife Nane Annan (right), are in the Maldives for a two-day visit.
MALE, Maldives, 11 January 2005 – United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is in the Maldives for a two-day visit, part of his tour of the countries hardest hit by the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Mr. Annan visited two of the worst affected islands - Vilifushi of the Thaa Atoll and Kolhufushi of the Meemu Atoll. He is getting a firsthand look at UNICEF’s relief efforts which include delivering clean water and providing psychosocial counseling to survivors of the island nation.

In Kolhufushi, UNICEF volunteers are working with traumatized children, encouraging  them to draw and play with recreational materials provided by UNICEF. “Assistance to those who have been traumatized, particularly the children, should get essential priority,” says Mr. Annan.

On Tuesday, government soldiers in Male, the capital of the Maldives,  helped load a ship with enough basic family water kits for 500 more families. The same ship will be filled later with more supplies - toilet paper, clean water, brooms and wheelbarrows – to be sent out to the affected areas.

The highest point in the Maldives Islands is just one-and-a-half meters above sea level. When the tsunami struck, it covered most of the country's 200 inhabited islands, including Vilufushi and Kolhufushi. Many lives were lost on these islands – a majority of them women and children.

© UNICEF Maldives/2005
Ruga Medina, 15.
Fifteen-year-old Ruga Medina narrowly saved herself from the tsunami by climbing on the roof of her house. Not everyone in her family was so lucky. "My young nephew and my grandmother were killed, and some of my other family members were injured. I just hurt my knee and was scraped up," says Ruga.

At a news conference in Male,  Mr. Annan stated "Now we are looking to the future and trying to see what we do for the survivors."




11 January 2005: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan visits the Maldives.

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