Few events in recent history have touched the hearts of the American people more than the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 that killed more than two-hundred-thousand people and displaced millions more in nine countries from Indonesia to Somalia.
Individual Americans responded to the horrific images of death and destruction by offering to help. Private American citizens have given more than one-billion-eight-hundred-million dollars in cash and in-kind donations to help tsunami victims. The U.S. government also offered immediate assistance, including military transports to bring in emergency relief supplies. Over time, official U.S. recovery assistance has grown to eight-hundred-forty million dollars.
The U.S. provided over four-hundred million dollars in aid to Indonesia for community health clinics, home building for displaced persons, midwife training, and road building. The U.S. and Sri Lankan governments signed an agreement in September 2005 to defer and reschedule Sri Lankan debt payments. The U.S. also provided over one-hundred-thirty-four million dollars in assistance to help Sri Lanka recover.
Nearly eighteen million dollars in assistance was provided to India to support education and child nutrition programs, water purification and waste treatment. The U.S. provided the Maldives with some twelve million dollars to repair damaged harbors, power systems, and sewage facilities. In Thailand, the U.S. continues to support efforts to revitalize coastal fishing communities and provide capital for new business.
The U.S. has provided over sixteen million dollars to develop early warning capabilities for Indian Ocean tsunamis. The money supports efforts by the United Nations’ International Oceanographic Commission to establish an international warning system with data sharing for sixteen Indian Ocean countries. Additionally, the U.S. has concluded an agreement to help establish a national early warning system to fill gaps in the regional system that would otherwise leave large stretches of the Indonesian coastline vulnerable.
The United States is pleased that American assistance has helped the courageous people and nations affected by the tsunami make significant progress in rebuilding their lives and their economies. The U.S. is also grateful for the help some of those same nations offered when the United States was hit by Hurricane Katrina.
“Nature," said President George W. Bush, "is an awesome force and it can inflict great tragedy, yet throughout history, humanity has come back from fire and flood to build anew. The U.S., he said, remains committed “to help the citizens of the affected nations rebuild their economies, communities, and lives.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.