2004 The United Nations' Post-Tsunami Assistance in Sri Lanka
On 26 December 2004, Sri Lanka became a victim of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. It caused widespread destruction around the coastal belts of countries close to Indonesia, where the earthquake which triggered the tidal wave took place. In Sri Lanka, more than 35,000 people lost their lives and thousands were left homeless. This disaster brought in its wake, one of the largest humanitarian responses in recent history.
The immediate response of the United Nations was to send out a flash appeal requesting aid for all affected regions. Emergency assistance was given, and steps were taken to feed some 400,000 displaced persons. Humanitarian assistance teams were then sent to affected regions to deliver much needed emergency assistance, and facilitate information management and liaison with rest of the world. The United Nations worked with the Sri Lankan Government, donors and key stake holders to assess the tsunami’s impact, prioritizing the areas that were in need of immediate aid, and provided relief assistance.
The United Nations’ projects that followed covered five cities and twenty-five settlements, starting the process of rebuilding and recovery. United Nation’s projects assisted the communities to achieve sustainable recovery through the reconstruction of homes, schools, roads, water and sanitation and other essential facilities. The aftermath of such disasters highlighted the urgent need for effective mechanisms to coordinate disaster response, including dissemination of information and organising relief. The Disaster Management Centre was set up which now houses the national Emergency Operations Centre, which is equipped to receive, analyze and disseminate information about disaster incidents.
Early warning systems were established along the coastal belt and people living in disaster prone areas, were trained on evacuating to the nearest safe locations. Safe routes have been clearly marked in public areas to enable tourists and visitors to evacuate to in the event of any future disaster.