Sri Lanka + 2 more

South Asia: Save the Children issues 6-month progress report on tsunami relief and recovery efforts

Westport, CT (June 20, 2005) -- After six months of helping children and their families recover from one of the world's worst natural disasters, Save the Children reported today that it has assisted 650,000 individuals including more than 250,000 children impacted by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated coastal communities throughout southern Asia and parts of east Africa on December 26.

"This has been the largest humanitarian effort in Save the Children's 85-year history," said Save the Children USA President and CEO Charles MacCormack. "In terms of saving children's lives, our efforts have been enormously successful. Our decades of experience in southern Asia and our rapid response to this emergency helped avert a second wave of death from malnutrition and disease that many experts anticipated would follow the disaster. We have provided food, water, shelter and health care to hundreds of thousands of children and their family members while also helping keep thousands of children safe from abuse and exploitation."

MacCormack said that Save the Children has concentrated its efforts in the three countries hardest hit by the tsunami -- Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India -- while also providing assistance to affected communities in Thailand, Somalia and the Maldives.

" While we continue every day to help thousands of children survive the devastating impact of the tsunami, we are now shifting our focus to long-term recovery efforts," he said. "We have a five-year plan to work with local partners to help rebuild schools, homes and health centers. We are actively training teachers and midwives to help replace key personnel killed by the tsunami, and we are expanding our cash-for work and micro-loan programs to help create new livelihoods for tsunami victims who have no income to support themselves," MacCormack said.

MacCormack's comments came as Save the Children released a 12-page report on its response to the emergency over the past six months. According to the report, Save the Children has registered over 7,000 children separated from their parents and helped reunite children with family members. In addition, Save the Children has assisted in helping thousands of children return to school and has played a leading role in helping protect children from potential exploitation and abuse by creating scores of safe places for children to play in temporary camps where many surviving families continue to live.

Besides child protection, the report also details the results of Save the Children's efforts in education, shelter and water sanitation, health, food and livelihoods in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. In Indonesia , for example, the agency has:

- Distributed nearly 8,000 tons of food to more than 292,000 survivors.

- Distributed 27,000 household kits of basic supplies for cooking and shelter.

- Delivered more than 1,000 school kits benefiting more than 50,000 children.

- Distributed 2,000 medical kits and 100 midwife kits to clinics, benefiting more than 4,000 people and supplemental food kits for 17,000 mothers and babies

- Vaccinated more than 3,100 children against measles.

- Set up a "cash for work" program in 155 sites to provide short-term income through jobs for more than 17,800 people.

"Despite our achievements, Save the Children sees many challenges ahead over the next five years as our focus shifts from relief to recovery and reconstruction," said MacCormack. "The process of rebuilding homes, schools and health clinics needs to move much faster. We need local and national authorities to jumpstart their plans so that Save the Children and others active in this effort -- including the local communities themselves -- can help with on-the-ground expertise, human resources and financial support."

The report notes that 27 Save the Children organizations worldwide have received contributions or pledges in excess of $245 million for relief and recovery efforts, with about half of the contributions to Save the Children USA. Of the total amount raised, about 15 percent or $35 million has been spent during the first five months in affected countries.

"We are releasing this report to make sure our many thousands of contributors know that their dollars are being spent wisely," said MacCormack. "The report indicates that 94 cents of every dollar we have raised has gone to recovery programs in the affected areas."