2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Humanitarian Aid

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On December 26, 2004 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake unleashed massive tidal waves across South Asia. Powerful tsunamis slammed into the coasts of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Seychelles, and Somalia, devastating thousands of miles of coastline – and the communities that depended on them.

The tsunami wiped away homes, schools, and health facilities; it demolished roads, bridges and power lines; it irrevocably altered the lives of millions of people. Tragically, more than 1/3 of the estimated 230,000 tsunami deaths were among children.

UNICEF was on the ground in the affected region at the time of the tsunami disaster and went to work immediately to provide lifesaving humanitarian relief to the survivors. In the weeks after the disaster, UNICEF teams provided clean water and sanitation as well as immunizations and supplementary feeding for children at risk of disease and malnutrition.

In the years since the South Asia tsunami, UNICEF-supported programs have helped transform the tsunami-affected communities, helping them to build back better. UNICEF-led tsunami reconstruction efforts have greatly improved basic services like health, education and sanitation, but also enhanced security and disaster-preparedness in these regions that are so vulnerable to natural disasters.

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