UN's initial tsunami relief takes various forms in worst-hit countries

UNHCR handing over plastic mats in Wattala, Sri Lanka

29 December 2004 – As the United Nations system moves into high gear to identify the immediate needs of the countries devastated by the South Asian tsunami that has reportedly claimed nearly 70,000 lives and affected millions more, initial actions have been tailored to help each of the worst-hit nations.

  • Sri Lanka - The World Food Programme (WFP), which says at least 1 million people have been displaced from their homes, is providing food aid for 500,000 people for two weeks. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is organizing an airlift of relief items from its UN Humanitarian Response Depot located in Brindisi, Italy, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) will bring in medical supplies for 150,000 people for three months after already providing more than 30,000 blankets. The World Health Organization (WHO) is shipping four emergency health kits for hospitals with medicines, disposables and instruments sufficient to support 40,000 people for three months. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is initially distributing $380,000 worth of supplies, including 23,500 plastic sheets for shelter, 24,500 plastic mats, clothing, towels and 20,000 kitchen sets.
  • Indonesia - UNHCR is set to airlift emergency shelter supplies for up to 100,000 people in the province of Aceh, including 3,500 lightweight tent, 20,000 kitchen sets, plastic sheeting for 20,000 families and 100,000 blankets. UNICEF is sending emergency health kits to supply 200,000 people for two weeks. UNICEF will also send tarpaulins and family sets for 8,000 households. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) will deploy a recovery expert and WFP will purchase food for immediate distribution.
  • India - UNICEF is providing hundreds of thousands of water purification tablets, 1,600 community water tanks containing 500 litres each, 200,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts, medical supplies sufficient to serve 30 health centres, and 30,000 blankets. WHO staff working on polio and tuberculosis prevention have already been mobilized to support government efforts in surveillance and relief work.
  • Maldives - UNDP released a $100,000 emergency grant. OCHA is organizing a 15-ton airlift of relief items from its Brindisi depot including tents, water containers, jerry cans, as well as emergency health kits. WHO is procuring supplies of water purifying tablets, oral rehydration salts and antibiotics. UNICEF is working with the government on the immediate provision of water purification supplies, food, clothing for children, shelter and other basics.

  • Thailand - UNDP released an emergency grant of $100,000, while WFP allocated $500,000 to purchase food for immediate distribution to the affected population.
  • Somalia - OCHA is organizing an aerial assessment of affected coastal areas while WFP has started moving more than 30 tons of food. A total of 1,000 tons of food is currently available in WFP stocks in the northern Puntland area and a ship with another 1,300 tons will be dispatched soon from Mombassa, Kenya.
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