Ireland represented at ceremonies to remember those who died in the Indian Ocean Tsunami
26 December 2014
Ireland is being represented at a number of commemoration events to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami anniversary today (Friday).
Ambassador to Thailand, Brendan Rogers, attended a memorial event organised by the Thai Government in Khao Lak, (north of Phuket Island). Ambassador to Indonesia, Kyle O’Sullivan, also attended a ceremony in Banda Aceh.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and the Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, have said their thoughts are with all those who suffered such devastating losses on this day 10 years ago.
Speaking today, Minister Flanagan said:
“We remember today the devastating loss of life, destruction, and grief caused by the Tsunami. The scale of loss – over 230,000 lives – is still hard to comprehend.
“Today our thoughts are, in particular, with the families of the four Irish victims: Lucy Coyle, Éilís Finnegan, Conor Keightley, and Michael Murphy.
“In the aftermath of the horrific tsunami, the Irish people and the Government responded swiftly and generously. Ireland alone contributed in excess of €100 million, comprised of €20 million in official Government funding and more than €80 million contributed by the Irish public. The total per capita contribution from Ireland was at least €25 per person, placing Ireland among the top five contributing countries in the world."
Minister Sherlock highlighted the improvements in humanitarian aid that came in the aftermath:
“Irish Aid learnt some very valuable lessons from the Tsunami and we have put in place new approaches to ensure that we are better equipped to respond efficiently and effectively when major crises occur. Ireland has been recognised internationally as a leader in providing humanitarian aid. We have developed an innovative system to prepare for and respond to major disasters, These include the pre-positioning funding so that it can be quickly accessed when disaster strikes and also by establishing a corps of skilled personnel, the Rapid Response Corps, to deploy at short notice to provide targeted support in areas including logistics, telecommunications, sanitation and health. We are also recognised for our generous funding and support.
“As an international community, we are doing better. We can look at the response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines one year ago and see how improved coordination; a focus on preparedness and our ongoing efforts to support communities to better withstand natural and other disasters has resulted in far fewer deaths.
“In 2014 we airlifted 269 tonnes of supplies - such as tents, blankets, jerry cans, water tanks, mosquito nets, pickaxes and spades, on eight occasions as part of Ireland’s response to emergencies and crises in a number of countries and regions. Some 32 members of our Rapid Response Corps have been deployed so far in 2014 to countries including South Sudan, Central African Republic, Jordan, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Somalia and Senegal.”
26 December 2014
Notes to editor:
• Within hours of the disaster, Ireland announced immediate assistance of €1 million. This was quickly doubled to €2m as the death toll began to rise. A pledge of €10 million in funding was announced on the 31 December 2004.
• Over $6.25 billion in global humanitarian funding was provided for the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004.
• Ireland alone contributed in excess of €100 million comprising €20 million in official Government funding and €80 million contributed by the Irish public.
• The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., accompanied by the Chief Executives of Concern, Goal, Trócaire and the Irish Red Cross visited the most affected countries, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka from 8-13 January, 2005. A further €10 million was announced by the Minister during this visit, bringing Ireland’s total pledge of assistance to €20m, the largest ever response to an emergency.
• Joint technical assessment missions were undertaken by members of the Department of Foreign Affairs Development Cooperation Directorate with representatives from the Department of Defence.
• These missions gave rise to a comprehensive framework for response which was used to inform the allocation of the Government’s pledge. In the first 6 months of 2005, more than 95% of the pledge was allocated by the Government to the humanitarian programmes being implemented by NGOs including Concern, Goal, Trócaire, Oxfam, and Gorta; international organisations such as IOM; Multi-Donor Trust Funds; and UN agencies such as UNOCHA, UNHCR, UNICEF and the WFP.
• The Rapid Response Corps was established to provide a body of highly skilled volunteers for deployment at short notice to work with our UN partners on the ground leading the relief effort. Our roster members have specialised skills in logistics, engineering, telecommunications, humanitarian coordination and protection. Irish Aid has deployed 250 roster members to over 40 countries since September 2007.
• Also as part of Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, Irish Aid pre-positions emergency supplies in humanitarian response depots around the globe, within airport complexes or close to ports and main roads, keeping transport costs to a minimum and allowing us to rapidly dispatch supplies to crises.
• Recognising the severity of the crisis and the unprecedented levels of support and interest emanating from Ireland, the Government appointed a Special Envoy to the Tsunami Affected Region. Former T.D. Mr. Chris Flood fulfilled this function and made a series of monitoring and oversight missions to the region. The Envoy’s mandate was to oversee the disbursement of Ireland’s assistance and to ensure it was carried out in line with best international practice and meets the needs of the most affected. During his visits, the Envoy met with a wide range of organisations and individuals, including senior Government representatives. Mr. Flood provided reports to Government following each mission. Mr. Flood’s final report was published in December 2005. This report is a comprehensive document and includes within it a series of recommendations to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
• The Technical Teams and the Special Envoy identified areas of particular focus for Ireland’s response. These included support for housing and the associated water and sanitation infrastructure, restoration of livelihoods, support for mental health services to provide care for trauma affected populations, support to enhance the engagement of civil society and local authority structures in the design and ownership of the reconstruction processes, and the rehabilitation of education facilities.