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South Asia: Earthquake/Tsunami Situation Update
June 2, 2005

JDC has raised $18.5 million for its disaster response program. Staff are working in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India -- the four most severely affected countries. Planning is underway for projects that will help rebuild physical infrastructure, such as clinics, schools and community centers.

Situation in the Field
The December 26, 2004 underwater earthquake and tsunamis that struck approximately 100 miles off the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island are believed to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 228,000 people. Coastal areas of 11 countries in the Indian Ocean were affected, displacing five million people.

Though the once-feared malnutrition crisis in the tsunami-affected countries was largely averted, more than 1.9 million people are still receiving food aid from the World Food Program. The need for improved sanitation and clean water remains high in all affected countries, especially in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Former President Bill Clinton, the UN’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, recently stated that the international community must complete the relief work that it has begun, and use these efforts as models for future disaster responses. He stressed the importance of "building back better" -- reconstructing communities with housing, education and health care that is of better quality than that which existed before the disaster. He also stressed the importance of an early warning system in the Indian Ocean to mitigate the effects of future disasters.

In Indonesia, officials lowered their estimate of the number of people missing in Aceh Province as a result of the December tsunami by 60%. According to the latest information, 128,715 people have died, 37,063 are still missing and more than 750,000 have been displaced. WHO reported that 80% of the western coast of Aceh Province had been damaged. Rebuilding costs are estimated at $4.5 billion. Current assistance priorities include food production, shelter construction, the provision of psychosocial support and the re-establishment of livelihoods.

The Public Security Ministry of Sri Lanka estimated that 38,916 people have died and approximately 518,698 are currently displaced. The International Labor Organization reported that 400,000 people lost their jobs or sources of income as a result of the tsunami. The government announced a $3.5 billion reconstruction plan that will include the rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, school rebuilding, psychosocial support for tsunami victims and livelihood re-establishment.

The estimated death toll in Tamil Nadu State and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India is 10,672. Rebuilding costs are estimated at $2 billion, prioritizing the restoration of shelter and livelihoods.

In Thailand, the coastal areas of Phang Nga, Phuket and Krabi were the most severely affected by the tsunami. Approximately 5,395 people died and more than 2,929 people are still missing, 1,953 of whom are believed to be foreigners from at least 36 countries.  Rebuilding costs are estimated at $235 million. Assistance is concentrated in the priority areas of shelter construction, livelihood recovery and fisheries and agriculture rehabilitation.

The JDC Response
JDC collected $18.5 million for immediate relief and longer-term assistance programs.

Checks to support these efforts can be made out to: JDC- South Asia Tsunami Relief and sent to JDC- South Asia Tsunami Relief, Box 321, 847A Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017. Credit card donations may be made via Website at, or by calling 212-687-6200.

JDC is working with its long-time partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in hard-hit Aceh Province of Indonesia. JDC assistance is enabling IRC to carry out its child protection and psychosocial support program. Child protection staff trained local midwives and nurses, who can identify protection issues through their frequent contact with community members.

“Child Friendly Spaces” have been established in three districts to provide displaced children with psychosocial activities that will transition into after-school programs as local teachers are trained to meet the needs of child trauma victims. IRC staff have trained women and youth volunteers to take over the recreational sessions, attended each month by some 1,000 children in eight displaced persons camps and villages. IRC is also working with UNICEF to distribute “schools in a box” -- books, bags, pens, pencils, chalk and teachers’ supplies -- and recreation kits of sports equipment. Schools deemed structurally unsafe were replaced with tents. Work with the Ministry of Education in areas such as curriculum development is contributing to efforts to rebuild the education system.

JDC has identified local partners through which additional projects are being carried out.  Emergency supplies such as mattresses and water containers are being distributed to individuals and hospitals; two custom-built ambulances are being donated; and school uniforms are being given to children.

In Sri Lanka, JDC is working with the renowned local organization, Sarvodaya, in the most severely affected districts of Ampara, Kalmunai and Batticaloa on the east coast, and in Galle, on Sri Lanka’s southern tip. Some 47,000 individuals will benefit from psychosocial and economic empowerment activities, many of whom will be children, women and the elderly.

With JDC support, Sarvodaya is helping to address the psychosocial and economic needs of individuals in 20 villages. Utilizing over 140 volunteer “leaders,” empowerment activities provide psychological support and skills training in areas such as sewing, handicraft production and gardening, helping residents rebuild their lives. Self-help groups for all ages are ongoing. JDC and Sarvodaya also provided school kits -- including school uniforms, shoes, socks, school bags, exercise books, pencils and a hygiene kit -- to 2,000 children who reside in the 20 villages. The school uniforms were sewn by local residents through a cash-for-work program.

Through the "Rehabilitating Homes in Galle" project, 100 lower middle class families that are not receiving assistance from any other source are being provided with furniture, bedding, kitchen utensils, cutlery and linens so that they can return to their homes once repairs are completed. These are the workers -- police officers, soldiers, teachers, postmen -- who provide the services that allow communities to function. By assisting this group, JDC is helping entire villages return to a more normal life. Further, Sarvodaya is hiring unemployed women in Galle to sew the pillows, sheets, pillowcases, dusters and towels that are being provided. By offering employment opportunities to these women, the project benefits an even greater number of tsunami survivors.

Sarvodaya has also requested technical assistance in a number of areas in which JDC has expertise. We are now working with them to determine priorities, after which training will be provided that will include visits by Israeli professionals to Sri Lanka and Sarvodaya staff to Israel.

JDC is currently negotiating a partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sarvodaya to construct 40 children’s playgrounds, several of which will be located in villages in which JDC is already active. This partnership will provide children, whose lives were disrupted, with safer areas for play and opportunities to make new friends.  It also brings the JDC name, and that of North American Jewry, to the attention of USAID in Asia and in Washington, D.C.

Planning has also begun with Sarvodaya for the creation of five multi-purpose community centers in Galle which will provide a venue for community activities, provision of basic medical services, educational opportunities and micro-finance projects, and will house computer and library facilities.

Also in Galle, in partnership with Rotary/Sri Lanka, JDC will rebuild a primary school (grades 1-5) that was completely destroyed by the tsunami. The 800 students are currently receiving their lessons in makeshift huts. A local Buddhist temple is donating the land for the school.

A new partnership with UJA Federation of New York and the Israel Trauma Coalition will bring training in the provision of psychosocial support services to teachers and “first responders,” those with the greatest access to victims in need of assistance, in four districts of the country.

In India, JDC is partnering with various local NGOs in the states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Work with the Disaster Mitigation Institute (DMI) focuses on providing shelter and reestablishing livelihoods, as well as distributing emergency items to the poor.  Five hundred shelters were constructed in five villages of the Vellupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Small grants are helping to revive the livelihoods of 1,200 families in 10 villages, ensuring that at least one member of each family has work for 100 days as the government completes its employment revitalization plans. Local technical experts, bankers and enterprise developers are mentoring up to 300 youth who wish to start occupations in (non-fishing) higher value sectors, such as marketing and trade.

In collaboration with the Meenakshi Mission Hospital, health care and pharmaceuticals valued at over $300,000 are being provided through mobile clinics in the state of Tamil Nadu.  A partnership with the Israeli NGO, Brit Olam/Topaz, is enabling visits of Israeli medical and health professionals as volunteers. To date, seven individuals specializing in areas such as emergency medicine, trauma and geriatric rehabilitation have worked alongside their Indian colleagues from the Meenakshi Mission Hospital. Plans are underway to send seven additional Israeli volunteers to work with Meenakshi health care providers. The project will reach 30,000 individuals in 200 villages.

A partnership with Caritas/Catholic Relief provided food to 750 families in Vypen Island; 1,500 families in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu; 2,500 families in Vijayawada and 500 families in Visakhapatnam, both in Andhra Pradesh. Five hundred children were given kits, uniforms, exercise books and bags that enabled them to return to school. An additional partnership with Caritas will help to establish computer centers in three fishing villages in Pondicherry.  Youth of families whose livelihoods were destroyed will be trained so that they have new skills with which to pursue employment. JDC also partnered with Vardhman Sanskar Dham (VSD Trust) in Aayampettai village in Cuddlaore, Tamil Nadu where 567 families were provided with shelter.

A new partnership is enabling World ORT and its local partner, Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS), a local NGO, to conduct the three-year “Educational and Training Project” in schools on the hard-hit Middle and South Andaman Islands. ORT will supplement traditional curriculum and professional development programs in four schools. Among the 12 training programs to be offered are courses in computers, teacher education and management.

In Thailand, JDC is partnering with the local NGO, Population and Community Development Association (PDA) and the Israeli Embassy to provide ten one-week “healing camp” sessions for 500 youth from the south. In a supportive environment, they are taking part in activities such as hiking and swimming, as well as classes on topics such as the dangers of drug use. Israeli and local mental health professionals conduct camp activities. When the "campers" return home, follow-up activities will allow them to take on leadership roles with other youth to revitalize their communities. Forty-five Muslim youth between 18-24 years old participated in the first camp session, and in early May the second session was held for 50 children ages 6-14.

JDC has also joined with PDA to rehabilitate the village of Ban Pat in Muang District, Phang Nga Province, where seafood fishing was the main source of income. School scholarships, meals, clothes and supplies are now being provided; income-generating activities will be restored; and water, sanitation and waste management services will be reestablished, all with the involvement of village residents. Additionally, PDA, with JDC support, is providing lunch trays and utensils to 12 schools in Krabi and Phang Nga that have begun farm projects that enable students to receive meals.

JDC is enabling MASHAV, the international development arm of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to conduct a water survey in several tsunami-affected areas. Israeli experts will meet with Thai officials from the Department of Groundwater Resources to discuss potential follow-up using Israeli expertise.

In collaboration with PDA and the Israeli Embassy in Thailand, JDC is convening two five-day trauma seminars, led by experts from MASHAV, in June in Bangkok and Phuket.  Participants will include local psychologists, health and social workers, as well as professionals from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Over 100 participants are expected per seminar.

An initial partnership with Chabad/Thailand allowed medical help, meals and clothing to be provided to tsunami survivors. JDC is now supporting a livelihood-retraining project that will provide former fishermen and farmers living in displaced persons camps with woodworking skills. The workshops will open up new work opportunities and provide furniture for use in camps, homes and local schools.

The Jewish Coalition for Asia Tsunami Relief
JDC has convened and is coordinating the 39-member Jewish Coalition for Asia Tsunami Relief, enabling North American Jewish organizations to coordinate efforts. $865,000 has been raised.

Two grants have been allocated to the International Medical Corps in support of their efforts to rehabilitate medical facilities and provide mobile health-related services in the eastern region of Sri Lanka. The Coalition is also joining JDC in supporting World ORT's “Educational and Training Project” on South Andaman Island, India (as described earlier in this report).

The U.S. Government Response
In February, President Bush announced that he is seeking $950 million to support the rehabilitation of areas affected by the tsunami disaster and to cover the costs of the U.S. government's relief efforts to date. If approved, the new contribution would place the U.S. at the top of the tsunami donor list.

President Bush named former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush to head a nationwide fundraising effort. Both visited Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives in February. President Clinton has also been selected to serve as UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.

Israel’s Response
Since the start of the emergency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been sending shipments of supplies donated by Israeli companies -- food, medicine and water purification systems -- to Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and Indonesia. A national campaign to aid victims, spearheaded by the Israeli Coalition, IsraAID, began on December 29, 2004. "The Israel Campaign for South East Asia Disaster Relief" includes Israeli NGOs and Jewish groups from around the world. Participating organizations include American Jewish Committee; B'nai B'rith International; Magen David Adom; Yad Sarah; Hadassah; Council for Israeli International Businesses; National Youth Movements; Naamat; Ve'ahavta; Meir Panim; The National Food Bank Organization; and Lions Club.

Among other efforts, teams on the ground provided meals to displaced Sri Lankans; medical and trauma personnel worked in static and mobile clinics; and training was provided to a variety of mental health professionals in Bangkok.

Please view, or write to for a full report on Israeli NGO activities.