Campaign Global response to the Southeast Asian disaster
Environment /Globalization - Thu Dec 30 2004

With the United Nations health agency warning that up to 5 million people in Southeast Asia are without basic services after the devastating tsunami, UN is coordinating what may turn out to be the largest ever relief effort for a natural disaster.

Latest news and information
Choike has created a special event section in order to disseminate rapidly the latest information regarding the global efforts to address the humanitarian crisis after the tsunamis in the Southeast Asian region.

A series of powerful earthquakes unleashed massive tidal waves across Asia and East Africa on early Sunday morning, 26 December 2004, killing tens of thousands of people in seven countries (India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia). The death toll is expected to rise dramatically as the full impact of the devastation unfolds. Multitudes of people are still reported missing and unaccounted for.

"This tsunami is not the biggest in recorded history, but the effects may be the biggest ever because many more people live in exposed areas than ever before," said Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

With the United Nations health agency warning that up to 5 million people in Southeast Asia are without basic services after Sunday's devastating tsunami, Secretary-General Kofi Annan chaired a top level emergency meeting on Thursday, 30 November, to oversee what may turn out to be the largest ever UN relief effort for a natural disaster.

Rushing back to UN Headquarters in New York from an interrupted holiday, Mr. Annan convened a session of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) as reports from the affected area put the death toll at close to 120,000 and still rising, with the number of injured topping 300,000.

Those attending included his Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who has been overseeing UN relief operations since the tsunami struck, agency heads such as UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

At the meeting World Bank President James Wolfensohn announced the release of $250 million, bringing the total amount pledged for relief operations in the four days since the tsunami struck to nearly half a billion dollars.

Following the session, Mr. Annan participated in a video conference with United States Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington and the ambassadors of the three other countries which have formed a coalition for relief operations - Australia, India and Japan - to coordinate efforts.

Mr. Annan has already called for a generous response to the flash appeal that the UN will launch on 6 January, warning that the emergency relief phase for the catastrophe together with the recovery and the reconstruction phase will require billions of dollars.

The operation is expected to surpass that launched after Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998, when the $153 million flash appeal for the first six months was followed by a mammoth longer-term reconstruction effort undertaken by the UN and the World Bank.

In UN relief effort after Asian tsunami, some details fall below public radar

From floating mines – the dislodged detritus of long running civil war – to the psychological after-shocks of Asia's devastating tsunami, the massive United Nations relief operation is addressing the mini-crises that may slip below the radar of public attention amid the glare devoted to the immediate health and shelter emergencies.

In Sri Lanka, where a ceasefire is holding between the Government and Tamil separatist forces in the north and east, mines seeded years ago may yet bear deadly fruit, posing a risk to hundreds of thousands of people driven from their homes by the giant waves as well as an impediment to relief efforts.

"Mines were floated by the floods and washed out of known mine fields, so now we don't know where they are and the warning signs on mined areas have been swept away or destroyed," UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) official Ted Chaiban said in the capital, Colombo. "The greatest danger to civilians will come when they begin to return to their homes, not knowing where the mines are."

To address the psycho-social needs of children throughout nearly a dozen countries devastated by the tsunami, selective in-service teacher training will be supported to equip teachers with specific methods and activities, UNICEF said.

While limited in their capacity and depth of the response to shock, teachers can still be trained to carryout activities which allow children, many of them orphaned, to share their feelings and to better cope with the aftermath of the disaster. In addition, teams of child counsellors will be trained and sent to schools.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is joining this effort, mobilizing its partners, including professional teachers organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to provide psychological support to traumatized children. It will also seek ways to help displaced children and those left disabled by the disaster to continue their schooling.

Latest news and information
Choike has created a special event section in order to disseminate rapidly the latest information regarding the global efforts to address the humanitarian crisis after the tsunamis in the Southeast Asian region.

Paris Club moratorium to tsunami-affected countries to be extended
Interest will be accrued over 2005 and capitalized for repayment after 2007. Paris Club moratorium extended, but with interest payments!
Asian Coalition for Housing Rights - ACHR
Regional network on human settlements and urban issues consulted by many UN agencies.
UN institutions participating in the relief efforts
United Nations coordinates aid to tsunami survivors
Source: UN News Centre
UN News Centre’s special focus on the tsunami devastation in South Asia.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
The earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia are yet another evidence that in terms of cause and consequence disaster risk is now becoming a global problem rather than an issue limited to hazard prone areas.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
The refugee agency is working closely with the UN country team in Indonesia in a coordinated response to the recent catastrophe.

World Food Programme (WFP)

UNICEF estimates that one-third of all deaths and injuries will be sustained by children.

World Health Organizations (WHO)
The immediate concern is to ensure the health of the survivors. WHO are working to determine their number, location and condition. WHO knows that there has been massive damage to infrastructure and that between 3 to 5 million people throughout the region are unable to get the basic requirements that they need to survive and cope.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
“This tragedy which occurred in a single day demonstrates that natural disasters can be as devastating as the internal conflicts and communal strife occurring over months and years that have also forcibly displaced millions in the South Asia region”, said in a statement Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
The organization decided to create a Task Force in Geneva to coordinate all inputs from the UNEP system to identify and alleviate the environmental impacts of the disaster and to support the efforts of the affected countries and the UN.

ReliefWeb is a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

International aid agencies
International Red Cross

Médecins Sans Frontières


Baptist World Aid


CARE Australia

Save the Children

Via campesina

Disaster prevention and reduction
Humanitarian Early Warning Service (HEWSweb)
An inter-agency partnership project aimed at establishing a common platform for humanitarian early warnings and forecasts for natural hazards and socio-political developments worldwide. The main objective of HEWSweb is to bring together and make accessible in a simple manner the most credible early warning information available at the global level from multiple specialized institutions.

International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
The UN/ISDR is the focal point in the UN System to promote links and synergies between, and the coordination of, disaster reduction activities in the socio-economic, humanitarian and development fields, as well as to support policy integration. A World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held on 18-22 January, 2005, in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.

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