Good News Agency – Year VI, n° 1



Weekly - Year VI, number 1 – 14 January 2005

Managing Editor: Sergio Tripi, Ph. D.

Rome Law-court registration no. 265 dated 20 June 2000.           

Good News Agency carries positive and constructive news from all over the world relating to voluntary work, the work of the United Nations, non governmental organizations, and institutions engaged in improving the quality of life – news that doesn’t “burn out” in the space of a day. Editorial research by Fabio Gatti. Good News Agency is published in English on one Friday and in Italian the next.  It is distributed free of charge through Internet to the editorial offices of more than 3,700 media in 48 countries, as well as to 2,500 NGOs and service associations.

It is a service of Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale, NGO associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information. The Association has been recognized by UNESCO as “an actor of the global movement for a culture of peace” and it has been included as an international organization in the web site


Special issue: a selection of humanity’s responses to the tsunami



Human rightsEconomy and developmentSolidarityPeace and security

HealthEnergy and SafetyEnvironment and wildlifeCulture and education

The Club of Budapest: "Learning from the Catastrophe"



Human rights



Centres to protect children from abuse, exploitation

New York, 7 January  – UNICEF has set up the first centres to protect children from exploitation and criminal trafficking in the Indonesian province of Aceh.Estimates suggest that there may be thousands of children in the region who have lost parents or been separated from their families as a result of last month’s tsunami and they are particularly vulnerable to abuse. “We have to move fast,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. “Those who would prey upon children in this chaotic environment are already at work.”The Indonesian government has placed a temporary moratorium on children under the age of 16 leaving Aceh without a parent.Child registration has also begun in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Five camps have been set up in Aceh and fifteen more are planned where children will be identified and registered with the Indonesian Department of Social Services. (…)


UNHCR unveils $75 million tsunami response operation

Geneva 6 January 2005 The UN refugee agency today announced a six-month, $75 million appeal to provide shelter, non-food aid and logistical support for hundreds of thousands of victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. The UNHCR operation, stretching from Indonesia to Sri Lanka and Somalia, is part of an overall UN "flash appeal" for $977 million launched Thursday in Jakarta by Secretary-General Kofi Annan()UNHCR's activities as part of the overall UN disaster response effort will concentrate on the provision of emergency and longer-term shelter, essential non-food items such as blankets, cooking kits and jerry cans, and logistics and transport to ensure life-saving aid gets to those who need it.() UNHCR's participation in natural disaster response is a rare exception. The agency's specific mandate is to protect and assist refugees fleeing persecution and violence. While it has responded to many "man-made" refugee emergencies over the past five decades, this is the first time UNHCR has mounted a major operation for a natural disaster.()


Asia: Special "family links" website

Last week, following the disaster in Asia, the ICRC launched a special website ( to provide information for people on the spot and around the world who are concerned about the safety of their loved ones.

The website can be used to let others know one is alive or to post the name of a person being sought. For people without access to the Internet, the ICRC is sending out mobile teams to collect information on "I am alive" forms and displaying printed lists in key public places. As a further service, the ICRC has made satellite or mobile phones available so that people can call their family members nationally and abroad.

In order to be as comprehensive as possible, the website provides links to other sites containing similar information. Instructions about how to enter a name and consult the ICRC lists are given on the website itself, which is in English. About 2,700 names have been entered to date.



Economy and development



Caritas tsunami relief efforts in full gear

Vatican City, 7 January - The Caritas Confederation is expending all efforts to help the people most in need in the many Asian countries hit by the tsunami disaster on 26 December, 2004. The latest statistics show that over 155,000 people were killed in the floods. Caritas member organisations are working together to provide both immediate relief and long-term recovery assistance concentrated in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Caritas is providing water purification and sanitation, school supplies, shelter, medical care, and trauma counseling, and is distributing food, clothing, and other essential non-food items. Over the long-term Caritas will be involved in rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts so that jobs and a normal way of life can be restored.

Damage assessments are ongoing as the full scale of devastation becomes increasingly evident. In India, a Caritas Emergency Response team and representatives of the dioceses affected came together to assess needs for the next month that include guarding vulnerable orphans and widows from human trafficking, cash for work programs, and re-building homes. In Sri Lanka, where over a million displaced people are living in camps, Caritas has launched an appeal for immediate relief for 50,000 families and their long-term rehabilitation. In Thailand, the Catholic Bishops Conference is elaborating a detailed proposal for the hard-hit fishing community, among others.

Donations for these projects have been rapidly flowing in from individuals and governments. To date, over 42.5 million USD are available within the Caritas network to respond to these immense needs. Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations present in over 200 countries.


UN-HABITAT responds to Tsunami Flash Appeal

Nairobi, 7 January - UN-HABITAT has initiated a rapid response aimed at helping the survivors of the Tsunami to rebuild their lives. Through the Indian Ocean Earthquake Tsunami Flash Appeal, launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, UN-HABITAT is focusing on immediate shelter and infrastructure reconstruction programmes in the affected areas. The Flash Appeal is a collaborative effort involving UN agencies, governments, non-governmental organizations and other partners interested in providing emergency relief to Tsunami-affected areas.

The Tsunami left in its wake devastating destruction stretching from Asia to the East Coast of Africa. The earthquake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, struck on 26 December off the western coast of northern Sumatra causing overwhelming devastation in the Indian Ocean region. Over 150,000 people died and their homes and settlements were destroyed when the massive tidal waves swept into coastal villages and seaside resorts in the region, and as far as the east coast of Africa some 4,000 km away.

UN-HABITAT is collaborating with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, which is coordinating the Flash Appeal, and has offered assistance to any on-going missions in the region. UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi with its regional office in Fukuoka, Japan, have prepared in tandem shortlists of rehabilitation and construction related experts who are on alert for possible deployment at short notice.

The agency's Habitat Programme Managers (HPMs) in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are ready to assist in emergency or assessment operations. (…)


UNDP/BCPR - Disaster Reduction Unit

Disaster information system rolled out to assist consolidation of damage and loss data in Asia

Geneva, 6 January - A number of countries in Asia have been devastated by earthquakes and tsunamis over the last week with a death toll now climbing over 150,000. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting national governments in consolidating information on losses and damages in the affected countries, at the local, national and regional level. This information is the key baseline for the planning and programming of short-term recovery actions. UNDP is taking advantage of its experience in buildng inventories of disaster loss and occurence in Asia, where it has deployed since 2003 the DesInventar database methodology, so far in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Vietnam, originally developed in Latin America by members of LA RED (The Network of Social Studies on Disaster Prevention in Latin America). To support damage and loss assessment efforts in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand BCPR is deploying an expert in disaster information systems, Mr. Julio Serje de la Ossa. Mr. Serje's mission to the region, together with associated software and hardware support is fully sponsored by COGNOS, a major software company in Canada.


UNDP releases emergency funds in response to earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia

Crisis prevention and recovery experts deployed throughout region; UN to launch flash appeal

New York, 27 December - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today rushed in an initial US$500,000 in emergency assistance for the victims of the devastating tsunami that struck South Asia as the UN prepares to launch a flash appeal to fund aid to all the affected countries (…) UNDP’s disaster relief plan also includes immediate deployment of its most experienced technical staff from the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) to the stricken countries. (…)

The Southern Asia disaster was in many ways unprecedented. It combined two phenomena, the outreach and force of which hit several countries and extensive coastal lines. Some of these countries were not considered amongst the most vulnerable to earthquakes in UNDP’s recently published global report “Reducing Disaster Risk – A Challenge for Development” and its innovative Disaster Risk and Relative Vulnerability Indexes, although tsunamis are not explicitly included in this research. This is a clear indication of the dynamic nature of vulnerability and of the need to continue advocating for disaster risk reduction as part of the development agendas, even in countries where vulnerability has not been a traditional cause for concern.


Blogs help raise funds for rebuilding effort. Architecture for Humanity  and Worldchanging tsunami reconstruction appeal increased to tackle community building initiatives

Within hours of the disaster Architecture for Humanity, a registered non profit set up to promote architecture and design solutions to humanitarian crises, and, a website covering "Tools, models and ideas for building a better future" jointly launched a reconstruction appeal. They set an initial target of $10,000 to be raised by the end of the year. 100% of the donations would go specifically to rebuilding efforts. Other websites and blogs, such as Boing Boing [], SEA-EAT [], Archinect [] and Core 77 [], then picked up and promoted the appeal. Within a day the reconstruction appeal surpassed its goal, and by 72 hours the donations and pledges pushed it over the $25,000 mark. This increased goal will be enough to build more than a dozen homes.

Now Architecture for Humanity and Worldchanging want to raise their target to $100,000. This increased goal, coupled with pro-bono design services and material donations, will allow for the building of more than just basic shelter, allowing the construction of schools, infrastructure and medical clinics. To donate funds or for more information the rebuilding effort log onto  or






Asia tsunami survivors receive more aid from ADRA

Bangkok, Thailand, 7 January -- In response to the deadly tsunami that struck parts of Asia, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency's (ADRA) recent activities include the delivery of aid supplies in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India and assisting in water-system repair efforts in a Thailand village.

In the northern coastal region of Aceh Province, Indonesia, a medical team in Banda Aceh opened a field hospital in coordination with the provincial health department. The team transported five metric tons of medical supplies and equipment to Banda Aceh last night.

Medicines are continuing to be distributed through hospitals in southern Sri Lanka. ADRA distributed medical supplies to treat 50,000 for three months. (…) In Thailand, an ADRA water experts team is onsite assisting a village in the repair of a water filtration and distribution system. The system is an income generating enterprise for 200 households in the village that receive a small fee for supplying water to surrounding communities. ADRA India has developed a plan to assist fishing families restore their livelihoods through assistance in accessing fishing equipment. A plan for providing clean water using water purification has also been prepared. (…)


CARE touched by outpouring of support for tsunami survivors

From piggy-banks to corporations, donors show generosity

An 11-year-old boy contributes the $104 he had saved over the past two years — one of thousands of kids wanting to support relief and recovery efforts in South Asia.

Atlanta, Georgia, United States, January 7 - The international humanitarian organization CARE reports that $16 million has been pledged from children, adults, corporations, foundations and online contributions to support its earthquake and tsunami relief and recovery efforts. (…)

CARE emergency teams in India, Indonesia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia continue to distribute immediate relief supplies while at the same time conducting assessments to determine the long-term recovery needs for the coming months and years. (…)

Examples of youth initiatives:

In Atlanta: The children of the North Pelham Road neighborhood in Morningside put idle time to good use last week when they heard about the tsunami disaster. Taylor Wilson, 11, and Micah Plott, 12, rallied other neighborhood kids, and three au pairs from Thailand, to donate toys for a yard sale at the Wilson house. Together they raised $1000.

From Maryland: Edward, 11, from Bethesda writes in a typed letter that “This donation is all my savings that I have saved overt wo years. I am hoping that this donation of $104 will be useful to you. Use as much as you can; that will make me happy. I feel bad that the tsunami happened there, and lucky that it wasn’t here. I feel confident that you will do well, and I hope nothing like this ever happens again. Good luck.”

Additional information: $6.1 million of the $16 million in pledges has been raised online through CARE's Web site, with 100 percent of those funds dedicated to South Asia relief and recovery efforts. As many as 50 corporations have set up dedicated employee donation Web sites to enable direct contributions, often with corporate gift matching, to CARE's Asia Quake Disaster Fund


UNICEF welcomes British Airways support of tsunami relief efforts

New York, 5 January 2005 – UNICEF welcomes the support of British Airways for making a weekly 747 freighter flight available to UNICEF to get humanitarian supplies to tsunami-stricken countries. The carrier said it will offer a 747 freighter to UNICEF once a week, sending it to UNICEF’s main emergency warehouse supply hub in Copenhagen for cargo pick-up and delivering relief aid to any destination in the devastated tsunami-affected region.The flights will start on 19 January and will continue until March.UNICEF is working to meet the urgent needs of millions of people who survived the tsunamis but now need shelter, water, medical supplies and other urgent assistance. (…)

Students from Madagascar mobilize funds for tsunami victims

Antananarivo, 6 January - Some thirty students from a local school in the nation’s capital cramped into the UNICEF Representative’s Office in Antananarivo today to present funds they had donated and collected from other students to help child survivors of the Asian Tsunami Disaster. (…) The students, who are part of La Clairefontaine School and L’Association Jeunes du Monde have been deeply affected by the images and stories from the Tsunami disaster. (…)


 Food for Somali villages shattered by tsunami

Nairobi, 5 January - Out of the spotlight but in need of help, up to 30,000 people require food assistance. Most of them are fishermen whose boats, fishing equipment and households were swallowed up by the ocean on 26 December. Others had their homes destroyed by tsunami waves that rocked towns on the Indian Ocean coastline of Somalia.

So far WFP has dispatched 277 metric tons of food to provide assistance to 17,000 people. But additional supplies are expected to depart from Mombasa on Friday.  A vessel carrying 1,300 tonnes of rice, maize, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend for the relief activities in Puntland, North-east Somalia will be reaching the port town of Bossaso a week later.(…)


Cricketer brings hope to tsunami survivors

Colombo, 2 January  - Just days after tragedy engulfed his country and several others around the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s cricketing legend, Muttiah Muralitharan, who is also WFP’s celebrity partner, was accompanying a WFP food convoy to the north of the island.

“Murali” himself narrowly escaped the tsunami as he left the southern city of Galle just twenty minutes before the waves wreaked havoc there on 26 December. He had been meeting fans and signing autographs. Eager to help WFP, Murali organised the hire and loading of five trucks of food in Colombo,” said Selvi Satchithnandam, a WFP programme officer in Sri Lanka who also made the long journey north on 30 December. When they reached the camp of about 6,000 people near Pallai, in Kilinochchi district, Murali immediately went to talk to survivors. (…)

WFP brought and distributed food to all 6,000 people in the camp – enough to last them for two weeks. The government had provided initial stop gap assistance, but their stocks had run out, so WFP’s food came just in time.

In the week since the earthquake and sea surges, WFP has dispatched food to 210,000 people; in the latest shipment, 30 trucks left on Sunday (2 January) carrying some 320 tons of various foods, including rice, lentils and sugar, to 43,000 people. The food is sufficient to last them for two weeks.

Among other contributions, WFP has welcomed a donation of 2,400 tons of rice from the Japanese government, which agreed to WFP’s request that the food be channelled through the agency’s regular activities in Sri Lanka to the emergency.


UNHCR airlift loading up relief supplies for Indonesia

Geneva 1 January 2005 UN refugee agency emergency airlift planes were loading up in Denmark and Dubai on Saturday with tonnes of urgently needed tents, shelter materials and other relief supplies destined for Indonesia's disaster-razed province of Aceh. They were scheduled to depart for the region early on Sunday. The three-day, six-flight UNHCR emergency airlift operation from Billund airport in northern Denmark and from Dubai where the agency also has stockpiles will carry 400 tonnes of aid for some 100,000 people, or nearly a quarter of the estimated affected population in Aceh.

Two flights are scheduled from Dubai using DC-10s to airlift 2,000 lightweight family-sized tents from UNHCR's regional stockpile. Four flights are planned from Denmark, where UNHCR has its central warehouse in Copenhagen, using an Antonov 124 and an Ilyushin 76 to airlift 100,000 blankets, 20,000 plastic sheets, 20,000 kitchen sets and 20,000 jerry cans. The flights will land in Jakarta, where the relief supplies are scheduled to be loaded onto C-130 aircraft and ships, to be ferried to Medan in northern Sumatra.()

TNT (Global Express, Logistics & Mail) has generously offered its fleet of vehicles in Sumatra to transport UNHCR's entire cargo of 400 tonnes of emergency aid from the northern city of Medan across the island to Banda Aceh.

UNHCR is deploying a 14-person emergency team, including logistics, supply and telecommunications experts, to ensure the rapid delivery of the shelter materials. Part of the joint UN response to the emergency, they will set up bases for logistical support in Banda Aceh and in Medan. Refugee agency staff from other parts of Indonesia are reinforcing the operation, and vehicles are being redeployed from West Timor and Jakarta.

In Sri Lanka, where UNHCR has been working for nearly 20 years and has 100 staff and seven offices, the refugee agency is continuing to widely distribute emergency relief supplies of plastic sheeting, plastic mats, cooking sets and clothing from its warehouses in both the war-affected areas and in the south. With one of the few in-country stockpiles of relief supplies, UNHCR immediately responded to the disaster, starting emergency distribution of humanitarian aid the day after the tsunami. Basic shelter and living supplies are being delivered to some 20,000 people, filling an important stopgap until international aid is delivered.                   

Wave of Giving Gathers Momentum: LWR pledges an additional $500,000 - millions more to come

Baltimore, USA, December 31 - Scientists believe South Asia's massive earthquake may have made our planet more compact, and even altered its spin on its axes. Lutheran World Relief's rebuilding campaign for South Asia, WAVE OF GIVING,(c) also has brought the world closer together, uniting thousands of concerned individuals and groups compelled to do their part in helping millions of survivors whose lives have been forever altered. (…) LWR, a highly rated international relief and development organization today is adding an additional $500,000 to its initial $70,000 to meet the needs of our partners in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia to continue supplying life-saving water, food and other provisions to survivors. This third wave of giving is a small part of what LWR promises will be at least a $4 million-dollar response, or more. (…)

WAVE OF GIVING(c) gained critical momentum December 30, 2004, when it received a pledge of $3 million from Thrivent Financial. The top-rated  financial services organization earmarked $1 million for immediate release while creating a $2 million matching fund for it 2.8 million  members. (…)


Indonesia: ICRC activities in Aceh

The ICRC was already operating in Aceh and working closely with the Indonesian Red Cross Society (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI), so it was able to get started quickly on the momentous task of helping Aceh’s earthquake and tsunami victims.

On 29 December, PMI volunteers distributed 1,000 tarpaulins for shelters and 1,800 family kits (cooking and hygiene items), supplied by the ICRC. The ICRC also provided medical supplies for two hospitals in the provincial capital Banda Aceh and issued body bags, gloves and masks to PMI volunteers clearing bodies. So far, the PMI and other organizations have collected over 15,000 corpses in Banda Aceh alone. The same day, a plane carrying ICRC specialists and additional supplies arrived in Banda Aceh, and the team has since been working closely with the PMI.

ICRC water and sanitation engineers are assessing displaced persons’ access to water and sanitation, providing sanitation facilities and clean water where necessary.(…) Delegates are visiting some 60 locations where displaced persons have gathered, in Banda Aceh and the surrounding district of Aceh Besar. These quick surveys are immediately followed by the distribution of clothing, hygiene and household requisites, and shelter materials. To date, 8,500 people have benefited. Over the coming weeks, the ICRC plans to bring similar aid to some 300,000 displaced persons throughout the north of the province. (…)

Working closely with the PMI, the ICRC has begun to set up a system for tracing and reuniting those who have lost contact with their families. Initially, people will be able to contact relatives outside Aceh via a satellite phone at the PMI office in Banda Aceh. (…)


Sri Lanka: More than 12,000 families helped in the North and East

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has so far provided essential household items to nearly 12,150 families in the North and East of Sri Lanka hit by the Tsunami on 26 December. Each kit typically comprises a bucket, three bed sheets, two plastic mats, a cooking set, and soap. Many families also received lanterns and clothing. All ICRC relief distributions were carried out in close co-operation with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS).

Starting a few hours after the catastrophe, the ICRC and the SLRCS began helping authorities in the affected areas to evacuate hundreds of injured persons and recover corpses. In addition to its large-scale relief distributions, the ICRC has also provided medical supplies including vaccines, antibiotics, disinfectant and bandages to hospitals in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. In these areas and in the Trincomalee district the ICRC has also begun delivering water tanks to welfare centres hosting displaced persons. (…)

The ICRC closely cooperates with its partners in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and other national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies sending personnel and relief goods to Sri Lanka.



Peace and security



Effects of tsunami on landmine and unexploded ordnance in Sri Lanka

January - Emergency assessments were conducted in Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee Districts to determine the effects of the 26 December tsunami on landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination.  These began immediately after the tsunami and are ongoing.  Nevertheless enough information has been collected to draw the following conclusions:

- Press reports of large number of mines floating off the coast of Sri Lanka and washing onto its shores are incorrect.  There have been no credible eyewitness reports and the assessments by technical staff do not bear this out.

- Landmines do not pose an obstacle to relief efforts.  Most coastal areas already were cleared except for security zones.  Standard mine safety practice should be observed in all suspected areas.

- Reports of post-tsunami mine victims in Kilinochchi, Jaffna and Mullaitivu are incorrect; none have been reported.  Information for all affected Districts will be provided when available.

- The tsunami did create some increased danger for civilian populations.  However this is containable through standard humanitarian mine action procedures provided resources are adequate.  (…)

There is no cause for alarm, but there is a need for safe practices and continued mine action efforts.  The indiscriminate nature of anti-personnel landmines and the presence of UXO have always posed risks in Northeast Sri Lanka and required awareness and caution.  Although that risk has not increased dramatically as a result of the tsunami there are, however, certain increased dangers to civilian populations that require a rapid response.






UNFPA appeals to donors for $28 million for women and youth affected by tsunami

United Nations, New York, 6 January – UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is requesting donors for approximately $28 million to help meet urgent health, hygiene and protection needs for women and youth in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Maldives, the three countries hardest hit by last week’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

UNFPA has offices in all the countries affected by the disaster. The Fund has been working with partners from the start to assess immediate needs, supply life-saving medicines and supplies to enable pregnant women to deliver safely, and reestablish emergency obstetric care and other urgent health services. The Fund has also provided hygiene kits – including soap, washcloths and sanitary napkins – for tens of thousands of women and their families, many of whom lost everything but the clothes on their backs. UNFPA has already made $3 million available for immediate response in all affected countries, as well as additional funds for medicines, equipment and supplies.

The new donor appeal, part of a UN-wide Flash Appeal launched Thursday in Jakarta, Indonesia, is to help UNFPA and partners – including government ministries, local NGOs, and sister humanitarian agencies – meet extraordinary needs of women and youth in the three worst-hit countries over the next six months. (…)


MSF clarifies donations for Asian tsunami disaster relief 

4 January - MSF teams are working day and night to provide assistance to people affected in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Myanmar. More relief projects will be launched by MSF in the coming days and weeks. 

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has received an extraordinary outpouring of support for the people in the areas surrounding the Indian Ocean through its network of offices worldwide. To date, the contributions MSF has received since the tsunami struck the region are estimated at approximately 41 million euro for this emergency. MSF estimates that we have received sufficient funds for to the first phase of our work at this disaster.

MSF teams are working day and night to provide assistance to people affected in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Myanmar. More relief projects will be launched by MSF in the coming days and weeks. It is therefore too early to evaluate the total cost of the MSF operations in the regions struck by the tsunami. However we have an ethical obligation to explain the use of funds raised by MSF for the tsunami relief and to ensure that we use all funds for the purpose for which they were raised. MSF will continue to assess the financial needs as the scope of our operations in the affected areas becomes clearer.

In this emergency, like all others, we relied on the constant support of people to respond quickly and effectively. MSF was one of the first international organisations to respond in Aceh because of the support we already had and we need this continuing support in order to react in the future.

These ongoing MSF funds have enabled us to respond quickly to the current disaster as well as to the humanitarian needs in other crisis zones worldwide, such as in war-torn Darfur, Sudan, and elsewhere in more than 70 countries in which MSF is working. Many of these countries are in dire need of emergency aid.

MSF wishes to express its gratitude to all private donors who have contributed to MSF's efforts in providing emergency relief assistance in the wake of the Asian tsunami.


Helen Keller International joins tsunami relief efforts

Helen Keller International (HKI), a 90-year old organization with established programs worldwide that combat the causes and consequences of malnutrition, has joined the tsunami disaster relief efforts. The organization is focusing its efforts on assisting an estimated 1,740,000 people in Indonesia, which has experienced the greatest number of casualties, through two basic emergency assistance activities.

First, HKI is distributing vitamin A, iodized oil and dispersible zinc tablets to children under five years of age through an initiative called Supplementation with Micronutrients (SUM). Micronutrients such as vitamin A, iodine and zinc constitute one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and prevent disease in disaster situations. Children particularly are vulnerable to death and disease in the aftermath of disasters such as the tsunami. Diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria become problems due to the destruction of infrastructure and the resulting poor sanitation. Vitamin A and zinc are two key nutrients that reduce mortality from diarrhea by 30% to 50%, and lessen the severity and likelihood of contracting diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria by 30% to 40%. In addition to providing micronutrients to children, HKI is distributing a monthly supply of multivitamins suitable for cooking or non-cooking conditions to enhance health.

In Aceh and other affected areas in Indonesia, HKI is conducting a Rapid Emergency Assessment and Prioritization (REAP) in order to coordinate relief efforts. Through REAP, HKI will be able to determine the conditions and coverage of basic assistance and recovery for the next six months. In the first few weeks of the assessment, HKI will evaluate the basic living conditions of the affected areas and help direct services such as clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and medical care to those in need. Data about diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and nutrition will be collected to complement the distribution of micronutrients through SUM. The information that HKI gathers will be shared with all groups involved in the relief and rebuilding efforts to assist in their collaboration.


MSF and Greenpeace's 'Rainbow Warrior' to bring urgent medical aid to Sumatra, Indonesia 

Brussels/Jakarta, 3 January - The medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Greenpeace are working together to bring desperately needed medical aid to survivors of last week's earthquake. The Greenpeace flagship 'Rainbow Warrior' and its crew of 19 will transport equipment, food, fuel, medical supplies and MSF medical staff to Aceh, northern Sumatra; an area which has proven difficult to access for aid organisations. The ship departed from Singapore yesterday (January 2) and is scheduled to arrive in the port of Medan tomorrow morning, where it will load supplies before heading to Banda Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra. (…)

The Rainbow Warrior will be used as part of a logistical set-up which also includes MSF helicopters, planes and cars. (…)


Counterpart responds to tsunami survivors

Washington, D.C., December 30 – In the wake of the deadly tsunami which killed more than 100,000 people in southern Asia, Counterpart International in partnership with SkyLink Aviation Inc. of Canada, and Medicines for Humanity is assisting survivors with a distribution of pharmaceuticals worth US$2 million. (…)

LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, said containers for shipment by sea are being assembled for the longer term needs of survivors. The airlifts will fly in long-dated pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, antiallergics, penicillins, and de-worming medication as well as ointments, disinfectants, and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) which will be distributed free of charge to some of the hardest hit communities in Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, and Indonesia. (…)

Counterpart International leveraged a $30,000 cash donation from SkyLink into a $2 million pharmaceutical donation through its partner Medicines for Humanity, while SkyLink is air-freighting the medication free of charge. (…)

Counterpart and Skylink will coordinate the ground distribution by working closely with local communities to assess their conditions and ensure the goods delivered are appropriate to the communities' needs.



Energy and safety



Sri Lankan CMCs become information lifelines in tsunami aftermath

6 January - The Matara Community Multimedia Centre, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s disaster zone, is broadcasting over 250 missing persons messages a day on its station, the Southern Regional Station of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, while its telecentre has been mobilised by those handling the crisis. “The students who normally use the computers were all affected by the tsunami, none have been back, but last week Information Ministry staff made use of the CMC’s six computers as local government office equipment had been destroyed”, explained editor Neil Weeratunga. (…)But the local radio is already doing a lot – acting as a vital channel for information on disaster aid for the tens of thousands left without water, electricity, telephones, food or shelter and giving out information on missing persons, which is then collated by university researchers.
UNESCO is currently supporting the development of six CMCs in Sri Lanka. The centres combine local radio and public telecentre facilities offering computer training, email and Internet access. Radio’s outreach is particularly important in crisis situations, but Internet also offers a vital channel for contact and information(…)



Environment and wildlife



Coral reefs and mangroves act as natural barriers against tsunamis

Gland, Switzerland, 4 January - The recent earthquake and tsunami that struck the Asian region is a reminder of the vulnerability of coastal communities in the face of unexpected natural disasters and of the tragic human costs and social, ecological, and economic impacts of such events.

WWF extends its deepest sympathies to those who have lost families and friends, including WWF staff and partner organizations, and to those who are now in the process of rebuilding their lives. 

In Aceh, one WWF-Indonesia staff member is still missing, and one project has been affected by the Tsunami. Local staff are currently involved in emergency relief operations, with WWF’s field office in Banda Aceh now functioning as a coordination post for emergency relief. (…)

All WWF staff working in India’s Andaman Islands and along the coastal regions of Chennai and Kerala are reported to be safe. They are currently assessing damage and the environmental impacts of several projects, including those involving devastated fishing communities along the coast.

Also in India, the country’s Supreme Court has relaxed its order banning the felling of trees from forests, allowing for the immediate use of timber for rehabilitation of tsunami victims in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The timber harvested would be used for reconstruction and repairing houses, setting up relief camps, and the repair of public infrastructure and buildings. The order will be in effect for six months and will not affect forests within 1,000 metres of the sea, the island’s national park, and coastal mangrove forests

WWF stresses that maintaining good environmental services, such as forests, mangroves, and reefs, can contribute to a community’s welfare in times of crisis. (…)


UNESCO stands ready to extend tsunami watch system to Indian Ocean

4 January - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has welcomed proposals by several countries to help create a tsunami alert system for the Indian Ocean, similar to the one established by UNESCO to protect the countries of the Pacific.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) initiated the tsunami alert system for the Pacific in 1968. It remains the only regional tsunami warning system. Over the past five years the IOC has regularly called for the establishment of a similar system for the Indian Ocean and other regions at risk. Member States have not given priority to the proposal because of the relative rarity of tsunami outside the Pacific.(…)

The Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific serves 26 Member States in the region and has been hailed as one of the most successful international scientific programmes with the direct humanitarian aim of mitigating the effects of tsunami, saving lives and property. Its operational headquarters are located in Hawaii at the International Tsunami Information Centre (ITIC) and the Richard H. Hagemeyer Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC).(…) Agencies in each participating Member State have the ongoing responsibility for educating the public about the dangers of tsunami. They are assisted in this task by the International Tsunami Information Centre (ITIC) which helps Member States set up warning systems and improve tsunami preparedness. The ITIC provides advice on how to improve communications, data networks, data acquisition and information dissemination. It also fosters research on tsunami and on ways to prevent loss of life and damage to property.(…)

According to figures from UNESCO’s Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, for every $100 spent by the international community on risks and disasters, $96 go towards emergency relief and reconstruction, and only $4 on prevention. Yet, each dollar invested in prevention reduces by up to $25 the losses incurred in the case of natural disasters.

Environmental Issues Emerging from Wreckage of Asian Tsunami

UNEP earmarks US $1 million for environmental needs assessments

Nairobi, Kenya, 30 December As the Asian earthquake and tsunami death toll is now feared to be approaching 100,000 people, emergency humanitarian assistance remains the top priority, but urgent environmental concerns that threaten human health must be addressed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today. The Organization decided to create a Task Force in Geneva to coordinate all inputs from the UNEP system to identify and alleviate the environmental impacts of the disaster and to support the efforts of the affected countries and the UN. UNEP has mobilized US $1 million to respond to the immediate needs identified by the regions governments. () The Agency has also strengthened its office in Bangkok, which is responsible for activities in the Asia-Pacific region. While the focus is to save lives and fight diseases, it is also important to address underlying risks, such as solid and liquid waste, industrial chemicals, sewage treatment and the salinization of drinking water. The damage to ports and industrial infrastructure may be severe, with untold risks to human health. Likewise, revitalizing local communities and their livelihoods will require rehabilitating and protecting vital natural ecosystems, in particular mangrove forests and coral reefs, Mr. Toepfer said. () Several governments in the region have stressed to UNEP the importance of developing effective early-warning systems. This issue will be high on the agenda of an international meeting on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), scheduled to take place in Mauritius from 10 to 14 January 2005, and at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), scheduled to take place in Kobe, Japan, from 18 to 22 January. UNEP will be a main contributor to these conferences. ()


Environmental issues emerging from wreckage of Asian tsunami

UNEP earmarks US $1 million for environmental needs assessments

Nairobi, 30 December – As the Asian earthquake and tsunami death toll is now feared to be approaching 100,000 people, emergency humanitarian assistance remains the top priority, but urgent environmental concerns that threaten human health must be addressed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

The Organization decided to create a Task Force in Geneva to coordinate all inputs from the UNEP system to identify and alleviate the environmental impacts of the disaster and to support the efforts of the affected countries and the UN. UNEP has mobilized US $1 million to respond to the immediate needs identified by the region’s governments. “Our support echoes directly the requests from national authorities for environmental experts to assess and mitigate the urgent problems. Therefore we are sending experts to work with the Governments and the UN country teams,” underlined Mr. Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP.

The Agency has also strengthened its office in Bangkok, which is responsible for activities in the Asia-Pacific region. (…)



Culture and education




UNESCO starts assessing situation of archives and libraries in Asia disaster region

5 January - As part of its assistance to Tsunami struck Asia, UNESCO is assessing the situation of libraries, archives and other information institutions in the region including a several day mission to Sri Lanka, where UNESCO’s Susanne Ornager, based in the Organization’s New Delhi Office, will start talks at the National Library in Colombo tomorrow. Earlier W. A. Abeysinghe, Chairman of the Sri Lankan National Library and Documentation Boards (NLDSB) reported that “a large number of school libraries, community libraries, children libraries, public libraries, libraries belonging to religious institutions… have either been completely destroyed or severely affected” and has called upon the international community for assistance to reconstruct/repair the damaged libraries and the restoration of the damaged books and other library material.(…)


World Heritage sites in regions hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami

5 January - The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, has offered UNESCO’s support to the countries devastated by the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the ensuing tsunami. Mr Matsuura said that "UNESCO stands ready" to assist the national authorities within its fields of competence and "give whatever support it can to the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator’s efforts." Several sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List are located in the afflicted region. UNESCO, along with experts from the World Heritage community and local authorities, is mobilizing all efforts to evaluate damage to these sites. Information is currently being collected and missions will be dispatched in coordination with the national authorities as soon as possible to decide on appropriate action. Emergency assistance will also be available through the World Heritage Fund to help the affected countries establish detailed damage assessments and rehabilitation plans.(…)




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The Club of Budapest calls for worldwide dialogue on steps to build a sustainable civilization


The tsunami catastrophe in Southern Asia touched the entire human community at a level and in a way never before experienced. The community’s first response was the provision of emergency relief that was likewise of historically unprecedented magnitude, promptness, and spread. This is a sign of great hope for our common future. In the long term, however, something more is required: a worldwide dialogue must begin on concrete steps that could lead beyond the present unsustainable condition of the world toward a more stable, peaceful, and sustainable civilization.

The tzunami catastrophe, with its enormous human cost, must wake us up and impel us to learn. This opportunity is historic and not to be missed. The question we face is this:

Will we continue to accept that the world is so unequally and unjustly divided that in some countries, regions, and continents there are no early warning systems to avert major catastrophes whether they are of natural or of human origin; that there are no adequate infrastructures for assuring an existence of human dignity for all the people; and that only the actual occurrence of a catastrophe that involves millions of people reaches the mind and touches the heart of the rest of the human community? Or will we seize the opportunity to learn from the experience of a major tragedy to develop the vision and the solidarity to see all of humanity as one family and reorder our priorities and restructure our relations accordingly?

We need to launch a process of worldwide discussion and dialogue on practicable ways to pull ourselves up to the level where our technologies of production and communication have already precipitated us: to the level of the biosphere as a whole, where all people now live in interaction and interdependence, and must also learn to live with mutual respect and solidarity. We invite all thinking people and humanistically oriented organizations to join the call for a global dialogue on ways and means to create an inclusive and peaceful Sustainable Civilization.

Due to rapid and remarkable technological and economic development we find ourselves in a world of great challenges and vast possibilities; a world where perhaps ten times more wealth could be available for each person than a hundred years ago. Yet, never in all the history of humankind have the chances of people for development and well-being been less equal and less fair, and never have the ecological foundations of our world been more endangered. The globalization of the world economy has created a vacuum of values and great inequality in power and wealth. We have failed to recognize fundamental human values, the common resource of all ethically motivated people, and failed to apply them to the problems of our rapidly globalizing world. An impartial observer could only call the level of development of our moral values and associated practices barbaric. They fail to address the problems we now face, such as worldwide poverty, the progressive destruction of the environment, chronic patterns of violence, and countless others. How is it possible that in a world of fabulous affluence there are still voices that seek to justify the hunger and poverty of billions of people, the presence of chronic diseases and epidemics, and the persistence of hopelessness and despair? Indifference and cynicism of this kind is contemptuous of the value of human life.

Humankind urgently needs a global dialogue that is both comprehensive and intensive, focused on civilizing our global co-existence – a deep dialogue on a new civilization that takes humanity as

diverse yet indivisible. For some time now we have possessed sufficient resources and adequate technical means to ensure that no one needs to starve, that all people on earth are provided with basic medical care, that all people can learn to read and write and have the benefit of lifelong education, and that every human being is enabled to contribute actively to the development of society. In order to realize our real potentials we would need merely a fraction of what the world’s governments spend on security alone– on a kind of security that leaves most nations and people in growing insecurity.

Only a world that ensures personal and national security and creative development for all its people can be a world that is safe for all its people. If wages in today’s poor regions are not increased, the wages in today’s rich regions will inevitably decrease. If the cutting down of the rainforests is not  stopped, the climate will turn unfavourable for all. Peace, security, employment, wealth, freedom, sustainability – no matter which values we refer to, in an interdependent world these values can only be protected and developed when they concern, and are taken seriously by, all the people. The sooner and more consistently we see ourselves as part of an integral world community, the better are our prospects for our a peaceful and sustainable future.


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Next issue: 28 January.



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