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Press centre

Tsunami Press Room

© HQ06-1918/Tom Pietrasik
For the first time since the tsunami, Bhanpriya, 10, visits the beach where her mother was swept away by the waves.
Two years after the Indian Ocean tsunami left over 200,000 dead and missing, and uprooted millions more, the longer-term impact has become more apparent. Rebuilding communities that were shattered to their core is not a patchwork task of months or even a year, but is rather a matter of steady commitment over several years. Though much has been done, much more remains to be achieved.

After focusing on the emergency phase during the first year, UNICEF shifted toward reconstruction in 2006, while increasingly sharing that responsibility with governments and communities. The massive task of constructing hundreds of permanent school buildings began, with the first students now learning in buildings that in Indonesia are more resistant to earthquakes. Health facilities were rebuilt to replace temporary clinics built during the first year. Child-care centres were erected and human capacity, depleted by the tsunami, is gradually being restored. UNICEF advocated at all stages with policymakers to incorporate the rights of children into all recovery planning, addressing systemic weaknesses which exposed children to risks.

As the process has evolved, UNICEF has maintained its commitment to ‘Build Back Better’ – to build better housing, offer better schooling and provide better health care and other social services – so that the communities are left stronger than they were prior to the tsunami.
Since the tsunami struck, UNICEF-assisted programmes have reached an estimated 4.8 million women and children in affected areas. UNICEF support has helped reconstruct 50 health facilities; provide 1.2 million children with vitamin A supplements; deliver access to safe water to over 1 million people; provide nearly 1 million children and women with insecticide-treated mosquito nets to protect against malaria; and assisted in the construction of 36 newly constructed permanent schools and 145 semi-permanent schools.

Donor generosity has enabled UNICEF to sustain its work even after the immediate attention has faded, and to begin the complicated process of restoring entire communities. That work has reaffirmed the guiding tenet that rehabilitation should build on achievements made during the emergency response phase.

For further information, please contact:

Rafael Hermoso, Emergency/Tsunami, UNICEF New York: Tel + (212) 326-7516, rhermoso@unicef.org

Kate Donovan, Press Officer, UNICEF New York, + (212) 326-7452, kdonovan@unicef.org

Related press releases and news notes:

December 2006 - A new life for tsunami widowers in Sri Lanka

December 2006 - Bill Clinton visits rebuilt school in Aceh on final tour as UN tsunami envoy

September 2006 - Making heroes out of children with a new emergency preparedness programme

June 2006 - Post-tsunami survey helps combat undernutrition in the Maldives

March 2006 - First permanent centre for Aceh’s children opens its doors

December 2005 - Myanmar: Supplies allow cash-strapped parents to keep children in school



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