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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Ninety days after the tsunami, Thailand’s children learn to cope with new realities

© UNICEF Thailand/2005
Fifteen-year-old Jackree Nimnual from Baan Nam Khem, Thailand, cries as he remembers his mother, aunt and cousin - all lost in the tsunami.

BAAN NAM KHEM, Thailand, 15 March 2005 - Thailand’s children are learning to cope with the new realities brought about by the tsunami disaster. Jackree Nimnual is one of the country’s 50,000 children who lost everything in the disaster, including loved ones. Tears roll down his cheeks as he is reminded of the loss of his mother, aunt and cousin who were swept away when the tsunami waters engulfed the fishing village where they lived.

Before the disaster, Jackree dreamed of attending the local vocational school and becoming a mechanic. But, like so many here, his hopes have been thwarted by the disaster. His father’s fishing boat  -- the family’s main source of income -- was destroyed and they're now left with no money.  But Jackree is determined to persevere: “I will move on with my life,” he vows. ”My dad, my younger brother, and my granddad will always support me. I will continue my studies as high as I can and take care of them well.”

In the aftermath of the tsunami, UNICEF, with the help of local authorities and relief organizations, coordinated a huge relief operation.  This colossal task included repairing homes, building emergency housing, providing medical care and basic nutrition as well as supplying schools with books, sports equipment and safe drinking water. Tragically, the destruction of the region’s tourism and fishing industries has plunged many families into severe poverty. This in turn has raised concerns that children may be forced to drop out of school in order to supplement household incomes. There are also fears that children, deprived of a stable community and family life, may be lured into risky behaviours or even be exploited.

Getting children back to school as quickly as possible has been one of UNICEF's top priorities. Today, the overall picture is promising;  when schools reopened in the first week of 2005 only half the students showed up, but now attendance levels are nearly back to normal.






March 2005:
Inese Zalitis UNICEF Head of Office in Thailand discusses how the money donated to UNICEF is being spent to help children.

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