Asian tsunami, 2004

“Time is of the essence right now. There are a lot of people along thousands of miles of coastline that had their homes, livelihoods, and lives laid to ruin.  They need our help now," former UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy responded to the disaster in 2004.

On 26 December 2004 a massive earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale triggered powerful tsunamis that tore through coastal areas of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives, Myanmar, Seychelles, and Somalia.

230,000 people were killed and millions more saw their families and communities torn apart. Children lost everything - their parents, their friends, their homes and their schools - in a matter of hours. 

Thanks to an outpouring of support from donors around the world, we responded quickly with emergency supplies of blankets, clean water and medical supplies to support the millions of children and their families who survived. In the longer term we worked to ‘build back better’ to improve the lives of children who were already vulnerable before the tsunami hit. We rebuilt schools, hospitals and communities and counselled children traumatised by the atrocity, reaching out to the most vulnerable children in need.

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