Canadian Red Cross Commemorates 5th Anniversary of Asian Tsunami

"Build Back Better" approach provides long-term, sustainable solutions for region

OTTAWA, Dec. 24 /CNW/ - As the world prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the tsunami that devastated the Indian Ocean coastline on December 26, 2004, the Canadian Red Cross is providing an update on its relief efforts in the region. To date, Red Cross efforts have helped 5 million survivors rebuild their lives.

Over the past five years the Canadian Red Cross has built over 6,500 homes, repaired hospitals and community centres, restored lost livelihoods and helped train thousands of disaster response volunteers across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India. The Society raised a record $360 million to support its relief efforts - the highest amount of any Canadian charitable organization - and initiated a series of both short- and long-term projects designed to build sustainable communities that will withstand the test of time.

"Following our initial emergency relief efforts, the approach of the Canadian Red Cross in the countries affected by the 2004 tsunami was to "Build Back Better" - to properly and thoroughly assess the needs and challenges of each community, and design and build long-term housing, health and community programs that responded to their needs," said Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO, Canadian Red Cross. "The recent typhoons and earthquakes this past October are a reminder of how susceptible that region is to natural disasters. Our goal has been to help build communities that can withstand those types of challenges and provide a better quality of life. What's more, we will remain in the region until our work is complete."

Steps Toward Recovery

Following initial emergency relief work alongside other international organizations immediately after the tsunami struck, which included transporting over 110 metric tonnes of supplies for survivors in the region, the Canadian Red Cross focused on four core regions: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. Over 100 Canadian delegates left their homes and families to work in the field, and relief efforts have been ongoing in the region for the past five years, often in collaboration with other Red Cross Societies.

$360 Million - A Record Fundraising Tally

Immediately after the tsunami hit, Canadians responded to the Canadian Red Cross' urgent appeals for support by donating $195 million to the society. Public donations were matched by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in the amount of $131.2 million. Provincial governments contributed $19.3 million, with an additional $15.1 million coming from corporations.

To date, 97 per cent of funds raised have been invested in tsunami response and recovery operations. The remaining 3 per cent will support Canadian Red Cross disaster preparedness programming over the next five years.

The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 187 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

SOURCE Canadian Red Cross

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Katie Kallio, Public Affairs Advisor, Canadian Red Cross, (613) 740-1994, www.redcross.ca


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