Military

Multifaceted UN response to tsunami focuses on both large and small

31 December 2004 From water storage tanks in India to safe delivery kits for pregnant women in the Maldives to fishery experts in Indonesia, the massive United Nations relief operation for the victims of the Asia's devastating tsunami today continued to address a vast spectrum of needs, both general and specific, giant and small.

In what is shaping up as the largest ever UN relief effort for a natural disaster, the world body has deployed five parallel operations to tend to the needs of nearly a dozen countries struck by the catastrophe, which killed at least 120,000 people, injured half a million more, displaced 1 million and deprived up to 5 million of basic services.

"The repercussions of this tragedy are so severe that communities are going to require massive international aid for many months to come," UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director James Morris said, noting that the latest carnage capped a year already marked by tragic humanitarian crises such as the conflict raging in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

The following is a country-by-country snapshot of some of the latest items in the UN's multifaceted response to the disaster:

  • India: With contaminated water presenting the greatest threat of deadly diseases in the tsunami's aftermath, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has begun moving nearly 2,500 500-litre water storage tanks to relief camps and distributing 3 million water purification chlorine tablets. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) is planning disease prevention at district level, guarding against potential measles outbreaks and providing vitamin A and oral rehydration salts (ORS). The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is monitoring fisheries.
  • Indonesia: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is starting an airlift on Sunday of 400 tons of shelter and other emergency supplies for an initial 100,000 people in Aceh province, among the worst and most inaccessible disaster zones. A UN joint logistics centre will be set up at the central level and in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital and a FAO emergency coordinator and a fishery expert have been sent in.
  • Maldives: The UN country team is focusing primarily on the provision of water, food, ORS and transport. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is procuring safe delivery kits for the 4,000 expectant mothers while UNICEF is providing food, shelter and non-food items.
  • Sri Lanka: UNFPA is carrying out reproductive health assessments. UNICEF continues to help ferry the wounded and dead to area hospitals while providing 10,000 bed sheets, towels, drinking water bottles, cooking utensils sets and mats to assist the displaced and stranded. UNHCR has been distributing non-food items.
  • Thailand: UNFPA has deployed mobile clinics while UNICEF has begun assessing the needs of children. FAO is assisting the worst affected sectors of fisheries and agriculture. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is sending 1,000 body bags and 2,000 kilos of formalin to the devastated holiday island of Phuket. The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is focusing on education and their World Heritage Committee will assess damage to relevant areas. The UN International Labour Office (ILO) will focus on longer-term rehabilitation and employment.
  • Somalia: FAO assessment teams have already been mobilized for a food security assessment in the field and the WFP has stockpiled 83 tons of food supplies for the worst affected areas.


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