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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Maldives faces serious challenges in recovering after the tsunami

© UNICEF/HQ05-0030/Horner
Rizuana, 11 years old and formerly displaced, shares a boat with others who returned to their homes on the island of Diffushi.

NEW YORK, 10 February 2005 – Although the acute emergency phase of the tsunami disaster and its aftermath has passed in the Maldives, the country faces grave challenges in re-establishing its economy and infrastructure.

Maldives consists of around 1,190 islands. The disaster forced 12,000 people to abandon the islands on which they had been living. A further 8,000 people had to leave their former homes and move to other locations on their own islands.

UNICEF has been working to make sure that all immediate needs of people affected by the tsunami are met. Food, water and sanitation systems have been provided and displaced people, whether in camps or staying with relatives, are receiving assistance.

“Basic relief has been provided to everybody,” said UNICEF Emergency Coordinator Sherazade Boualia. “The schools have reopened as promised and temporary schools have been provided for children who cannot go back to regular schools.”

© UNICEF/HQ05-0031/Horner
A boy rests after helping his family clean up their tourist shop on the island of Diffushi, Maldives.

The Maldives’ water supply comes mainly from rainwater; UNICEF is assisting in building new water tanks to restore lost storage capacity, and in providing desalination units to process sea water.

UNICEF has supported a training programme to help teachers identify children still suffering from the trauma of the disaster. “It’s an initiative that has started and needs to continue because the trauma is still there. There’s much more to be done. Not just children, it’s the families – it’s nation-wide,” Boualia said.

The Maldives relies heavily on income from the sea. Disaster recovery must include, not just rebuilding and repairing houses and schools, but also helping the fishing industry to recuperate. It is estimated that reconstruction of houses will cost $75 million. But funding for this part of the recovery effort, as well as for the fishing industry, has been minimal so far. 

“The country has not received funding for shelter or fisheries and these are two sectors that people are really concerned about. And there is a need to revive the economy,” Boualia said.




10 February 2005: UNICEF Emergency Coordinator Sherazade Boualia says Maldivians need urgent help re-establishing their livelihoods.

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