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After the Tsunami


Editorial: NYTimes:
One Year After the Tsunami
Published: December 28, 2005

The tsunami that cut a swath of destruction through the Indian Ocean region last year was an extraordinary catastrophe. It struck 12 countries and displaced more than two million people, according to the United Nations, destroying their livelihoods, tearing apart families, annihilating entire towns. The ensuing natural disasters that have followed in the 12 months since then - from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to the earthquake in Kashmir - have been measured against the horror of the number left dead by the Indian Ocean tsunami: at least 183,172.

The tsunami also generated a record $13.6 billion in pledges for immediate and regional aid, and long-term help for specific countries. About three-quarters of that aid has actually been secured. Clearly, the world can make good on its promises when it wants to.

Indeed, the pledges actually exceed the initial requests for help. According to the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, the estimate of the amount needed for long-term tsunami recovery in each of the affected countries was $10.12 billion, and the amount pledged was $10.51 billion. Indonesia, which was hit the hardest, needs an estimated $5.5 billion; it got $6.5 billion in pledges. Sri Lanka asked for $2.15 billion; it got promises of almost $3 billion.

Given the devastation involved and the extreme poverty of many victims, the money pledged is by no means over the top. But the agencies entrusted with spending the donations have a special responsibility to spend wisely.

There's some good news: swift intervention by aid groups prevented major outbreaks of disease. A tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean region, which would prepare every country's weather service to receive warnings, should be ready for installation in mid-2006. In Sri Lanka and Indonesia, nearly all of the children affected by the tsunami are back in school.

The progress report on relief and reconstruction remains mixed. Only 20 percent of the people left homeless are in permanent homes, with many thousands still languishing in refugee tents. In Sri Lanka, squabbles over aid money, combined with a legacy of distrust between the Tamil separatists and the backers of the government, have sent the country to the edge of a renewed civil war.

Still, the good by far outweighs the bad, and it is important that both the donor governments and the countries hit by the tsunami stay the course in reconstruction.

This is a rare opportunity to do things right, to actually put muscle behind all the usual talk of rebuilding stronger and better, and to heed the tsunami's greatest lesson: early warning saves lives. There are few people involved who wouldn't trade that surplus aid money to get back a few of those more than 183,000 lost lives.

via the UNDP & Tsunami Recovery page:

UNDP has published a report on its assistance to the tsunami recovery and reconstruction efforts for the past year. It is meant to provide examples of how UNDP is helping people who survived the tsunami rebuild their lives now, and for the future.

Download Report (PDF 2.0 Mb)

More links:

Commons

Wikimedia Commons: Media, Maps, Photos, Diagrams, etc. related to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake

 

Wikinews
Wikinews has news related to this article the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

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