Tsunami Two Years Later: American Red Cross Continues to Support Critical Needs of Survivors
WASHINGTON, Tuesday, December 19, 2006 — Two years after the raging waters of the tsunami swept away lives, homes and communities in more than a dozen countries, daily routines are slowly coming back for those impacted by this disaster. However, for many people struggles persist. It is widely acknowledged that the greatest needs are for housing and livelihoods. In response, humanitarian agencies, including the American Red Cross, are collaborating to restore and rebuild houses and to provide new economic opportunities in affected communities. At the same time, the American Red Cross is working to ensure that critical emerging needs of survivors are being met.
“Over the past two years, there has been significant progress to assist survivors and to restore tsunami-affected communities,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of the International Services Department of the American Red Cross. “But we cannot forget the immediate needs of those in the affected areas. People need secure shelter, clean water and proper sanitation to be safe and healthy for today and for the future.”
In Aceh, Indonesia-- which was the hardest hit area by the tsunami-- the American Red Cross has been providing transitional shelters for thousands of people. In the villages of Pasi and Meunsah Lhok, the American Red Cross has been working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to provide steel-framed transitional shelters, along with electrical generators to these communities. To assist people living in internally displaced persons camps, the American Red Cross is providing maintenance to temporary barracks, supplying clean water and supporting the upkeep of drainage systems. In addition, around the village of Calang, where nearly 70 percent of the population was lost, the American Red Cross has been carrying out psychosocial support programs to assist children and women who are still suffering from emotional trauma.
In Sri Lanka, many people living in temporary camps have seen conditions worsen over the passing months, as they wait for permanent housing. In response, the American Red Cross has recently provided US $10 million to an owner-driven housing program in Sri Lanka that will assist approximately 15,000 people to restore or rebuild permanent homes. At the same time, the American Red Cross is working in new communities, like in Walahanduwa, near the port city of Galle, where nearly 80 families relocated after the tsunami. In November, heavy rains combined with a poorly designed sanitation system caused flooding in the village. Dirty water and sewage spread along many streets and even into some houses. The American Red Cross is working with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to install a new sanitation system that will soon improve health conditions for this community.
The American Red Cross is responding to livelihood needs through cash-for-work programs that provide short-term income for communities, while helping them to clean the environment. These programs have assisted nearly 14,500 people in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The American Red Cross has also formed partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, like Mercy Corps and CHF International, to restore markets and provide people with small grants to promote economic opportunities in Indonesia.
In its 125 years of responding to disaster, the American Red Cross has learned that as communities recover from a disaster, it is vital to be flexible in the response as new priorities often emerge. The American Red Cross works with partner Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies that have networks among the local communities to identify and respond to community needs.
“In order to maximize our positive impact on communities, it is essential that we engage and listen to the communities themselves,” said Gerald Anderson, senior director of the Tsunami Recovery Program for the American Red Cross. “This is one of the most important aspects to ensure a successful, long term recovery.”
Even though full recovery will take several more years, there has been substantial progress since December 2004. Through its programs, the American Red Cross has assisted more than three million people in nine tsunami-affected countries through its relief and recovery programs. In addition, the American Red Cross has reached more than 80 million through its disease prevention programs. Together with its partners, the American Red Cross is working vigorously to meet critical needs, while carrying-out long-term programs to support survivors and their communities on the road to recovery.
For more information regarding the American Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program, see: www.redcross.org/tsunami.
You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.
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Editor’s note: Spokespeople are available in tsunami-affected countries and Washington DC. B-roll video footage and photos are also available. Contact: Michael Oko (202) 303-6820.
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