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One Year Later: The American Red Cross Reflects on the Tsunami


WASHINGTON, Monday, December 19, 2005 — One year ago, as families were gathered for the holiday, the images that flashed across our television screens were not those of football or holiday parades, but rather, the shocking images of lives torn apart, homes destroyed and villages wiped away. The Indian Ocean tsunami struck more than a dozen countries on Dec. 26, 2004, and the American Red Cross is one of 40 national societies of the larger International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that was on the ground, responding to the disaster. We are still there, helping survivors recover, rebuild and strengthen their communities.

Thus far, through our emergency relief distributions, vaccinations and recovery programs, the American Red Cross – with our partners – has reached more than 30 million people living in the tsunami-affected countries.

Immediately following the tsunami, people of all ages from around the world demonstrated the season’s spirit of giving when they opened their pocketbooks and gave money in record amounts to help organizations deliver relief to tsunami-affected countries. The American Red Cross received more money than any other single organization and we continue to honor our donors’ generosity through programs that meet the needs of individuals and their communities.

With our partners, the American Red Cross is still distributing food, still providing shelter, still working to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and still ensuring the safety of drinking water. We continue to work with communities through community leaders to make certain survivors receive the emotional support they need, and that our programs match the needs of those affected. We participate in community clean-up efforts through cash-for-work programs. While the American Red Cross continues to address ongoing humanitarian needs, long-term programs are underway, focused currently on rebuilding water and sanitation systems and providing transitional shelter.

“Thanks to the generosity of people across America and around the world, the American Red Cross is helping to help restore hope to the survivors of last year’s tsunami,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president for International Services for the American Red Cross. “There is no better sign of recovery than the sound of a child’s laugh and we hope to hear many more sounds of recovery in the coming months and years,” he said.

With approximately $568 million donated to fund an estimated five-year recovery plan, the American Red Cross is working with local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, government and non-governmental partners in the tsunami-affected region. American Red Cross delegations have been established in the hardest hit areas of Indonesia and Sri Lanka with delegates located in the Maldives, Thailand and East Africa.

The American Red Cross continues to build partnerships with other national and international organizations. Most recently, an agreement to partner with the World Wildlife Fund was signed to support our work in tsunami-affected countries, while ensuring that our activities establish and promote healthy environmental practices.

“While we take this opportunity to reflect upon and commemorate the loss of life, homes and livelihoods that occurred nearly one year ago, we also look ahead to 2006 with hope as we anticipate building upon the progress we’ve seen over this past year,” Meltzer said.


* Rushed relief supplies to 675,000 tsunami survivors. This aid included family tents, sleeping mats, cooking sets, hygiene kits and much more.
* Provided emergency food assistance to more than 2.1 million people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives through a partnership with the World Food Program.
* Created a psychosocial support program that has reached approximately 123,000 people and is expected to help more than 400,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
* Started water and sanitation programs to benefit nearly 900,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives. The American Red Cross is also providing water and sanitation infrastructure for 11,000 transitional shelters, built by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which will serve homes, schools and health clinics and is expected to assist approximately 77,000 people in Aceh Province, Indonesia.
* Working in partnership with the International Organization for Mirgration to build 5,000 transitional shelters, including schools and health clinics, to assist approximately 35,000 people in Aceh province, Indonesia.
* Prevented epidemics by vaccinating nearly 7.8 million children against measles in Indonesia and Tanzania and more than 23.4 million children against polio in Indonesia in conjunction with United Nations agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

For more information about the American Red Cross Tsunami Recovery Program, please visit the Web site at The Program’s Plan of Action and One-Year Report are both available for download online.

The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors—across the street, across the country and across the world—in emergencies. Each year, in communities large and small, victims of some 70,000 disasters turn to neighbors familiar and new—the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Some 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world’s most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work. Marsha J. Evans is the President and CEO of the American Red Cross and Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is Chairman of the American Red Cross.


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