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© UNICEF/SL/05/Peitrasik/88

The tsunami that hit Sri Lanka’s northern and eastern coasts on 26 December 2004 resulted in serious loss of life and substantial material for the small island. The tsunami killed over 35,000 people and initially displaced up to 1 million persons out of a population of 19.3 million.

Against this background, UNICEF supported the Government of Sri Lanka to rapidly respond to the tremendous needs of the tsunami-affected population. With over three decades of experience in Sri Lanka, including a history of responding to drought and floods, and a presence in the north-east of the country to assist war-affected and disadvantaged children, UNICEF Sri Lanka was well-positioned to respond swiftly and appropriately to the tsunami disaster.

Immediately upon hearing news of the massive waves hitting coastal areas, UNICEF staff mobilized for action. The priority objectives were clear: to ensure the survival of affected populations, to alleviate the immediate suffering of children, particularly those who had lost their parents, and to address their most pressing humanitarian needs.




People killed:                                                      35,322

People injured:                                                    21,441

Internally displaced people  (IDPs)                        515,150


Value of lost assets:                                             US $900 million

Lost livelihoods                                                    150,000

Houses damaged                                                 98,000


Children who lost one parent                                3954*

Children who lost both parents                              979*

Total widowed,

orphaned and affected elderly and disabled           40,000

Schools damaged                                                182

Schools used as camps for IDPs                           446

School children affected                                       200,000

Source: Post Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction. Joint report of the Government of Sri Lanka and Development Partners December 2005

* Source: UNICEF Sri Lanka



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