Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations
CRS Report for Congress
Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami:
Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations
Updated March 21, 2005
Rhoda Margesson, Coordinator
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Emma Chanlett-Avery, Nicolas Cook, K. Alan Kronstadt,
Mark E. Manyin, Larry A. Niksch, Larry Nowels, and Bruce Vaughn
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Wayne A. Morrissey
Knowledge Services Group
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami:
Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations
On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the west coast
of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, unleashed a tsunami that affected more than 12
countries throughout south and southeast Asia and stretched as far as the northeastern
African coast. Current official estimates indicate that more than 250,000 people are
dead or missing and millions of others are affected, including those injured or
displaced, making this the deadliest tsunami on record. Sections of Indonesia, Sri
Lanka, India, and Thailand have suffered the worst devastation.
In response, the United Nations, the United States, and other donor nations have
organized what some have called the world’s largest relief and recovery operation to
date. President Bush pledged $350 million in aid early on and mobilized the U.S.
military to provide logistical and other assistance. The Administration has increased
this amount by seeking $600 million in its request for $950 million for tsunami relief
in the FY2005 emergency supplemental. Of this total, $346 million would replenish
USAID emergency aid accounts that had been drawn down in support of the U.S.
government response and reimburse Defense Department accounts that were used in
the relief effort. On March 16, the House passed H.R. 1268, funding all items
proposed under the Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction Fund, except for the $45
million proposed for debt reduction.
The large-scale U.S. response to the tsunami is unlikely to reverse the decline
in the U.S. image abroad since the September 11 attacks, because this decline
primarily is due to American policies in the Middle East. However, the scale and
scope of U.S. assistance could provide a positive example of U.S. leadership and
military capabilities. Additionally, the disaster relief cooperation between the U.S.
and Indonesian militaries is likely to be mentioned during the annual congressional
deliberations over renewing restrictions on U.S.-Indonesian military-to-military
relations, which the Bush Administration has sought to restore since the September
This report summarizes the extent of the disaster and relief effort and includes
descriptions of the U.S. and international assistance efforts. It also examines
protection mechanisms for children and separated orphans. A section is devoted to
the situation in each of the affected countries followed by an analysis of selected
issues for Congress. The report will be updated further as events warrant.
Contributing Authors and Subject Areas
Name Telephone Subject
Nicolas Cook7-0429African Affairs
Alan Kronstadt7-5415Asian Affairs
Mark Manyin7-7653Asian Affairs
Rhoda Margesson7-0425Humanitarian Assistance
Wayne Morrissey7-7072Early Warning Systems
Larry Nowels7-7645Budget and Policy Issues
In troduction ..................................................1
Comparisons to Past Disasters........................................2
Relief Operations and Aid Delivery................................6
Protection for Children and Separated Orphans......................8
Tsunami Orphans: The Tsunami Generation....................9
Humanitarian Response: U.S. and International Assistance................10
U.S. Emergency Assistance to the Region..........................10
The U.S. Emergency Response Mechanism........................11
FY2005 Emergency Supplemental...........................16
International Emergency Assistance to the Region...................16
International Donor Conferences.................................20
Situation Report on Countries Affected by the Tsunami...................20
Reunion (French Territory).....................................38
Issues for Congress...............................................38
Tsunami Aid and Reconstruction Issues...........................38
Competing Aid and Budget Priorities.........................39
Implications for Other U.S. Foreign Policy Interests..................40
Countering Negative Images of the United States................41
Early Warning Systems: International Scientific, Technological and
Aid to Indonesia and the Leahy Amendment....................43
Appendix 1. U.S. Assistance to Selected Countries Affected by the Indian
List of Aid-Related Abbreviations................................47
Appendix 2. Child Protection Issues in Tsunami-Affected Countries........48
UNICEF’S Child Protection Response to the Indian Ocean Emergency.......50
List of Figures
Figure 1. Map of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami ..........2
Figure 2. Countries Affected by the Tsunami...........................52
Figure 3. Regional Assistance and Food Aid Requirements................53
List of Tables
Table 1. Deadliest Natural Disasters...................................3
Table 2. U.S. Governmental Assistance after Hurricane Mitch..............3
Table 3. Estimated Number of Persons Affected by the Earthquake and
Table 4. Governmental, Inter-Governmental, and Private Tsunami Relief
and Reconstruction Pledges and Contributions as of March 9, 2005.....18
Table 5. U.S. Assistance to Indonesia, 2001-2005.......................45
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Sri Lanka, 2001-2005.......................45
Table 7. U.S. Assistance to India, FY2001-FY2005......................46
Table 8. U.S. Assistance to Thailand, FY2002-FY2005 ..................46
Table 9. U.S. Assistance to Malaysia, 2001-2005.......................46
Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Somalia.................................47
Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami:
Humanitarian Assistance and Relief
On December 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the west coast
of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, unleashed a tsunami that affected more than 12
countries throughout south and southeast Asia and stretched as far as the northeastern
African coast. Within six hours the deadly waves traveled more than 3,000 miles and
carved a trail of death and destruction as they arrived on land. Current official
estimates indicate that more than 250,000 people are dead or missing, and millions
of others are affected, including the injured or displaced.2 The World Health
Organization (WHO) indicates that an estimated three to five million people lack the
basic necessities for survival; between one and two million people may be displaced.
In many places the physical environment is badly damaged or destroyed, including
entire communities, homes, businesses, tourist areas, and infrastructure (roads,
bridges, power and telephone systems, and public buildings). For many their means
of livelihood and way of life has been wiped out. In the hardest hit areas, social
services are severely compromised or nonexistent. Experts have said this is the most
powerful earthquake in 40 years and the fourth (and perhaps the second) most deadly
in the last century. Estimates of the dead make it the worst tsunami disaster on
A massive, global relief and recovery operation is underway. According to the
United Nations, the relief operation is the largest ever undertaken. Indonesia, Sri
Lanka, India, and Thailand have suffered some of the worst devastation. Within a
day, all were declared a disaster by their respective U.S. ambassador, which allowed
U.S. aid to be immediately released through the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
(OFDA). For information on current conditions and latest developments, view the
reports of governments, private voluntary agencies, and U.N. agencies on the web at
[ h ttp://www.reliefweb.int.]
1 Prepared by Rhoda Margesson, Foreign Affairs Analyst.
2 Early estimates of deaths from natural disasters are difficult to calculate and usually quite
different from the final count. In this disaster the final number likely will never be known
with any accuracy given the number of countries involved, the long, populous coastlines
that were struck by the tsunamis, and the number of villages completely destroyed.
Numbers fluctuate. See Donald G. McNeil, Jr., “Experts Say Accurate Toll is Hard to
Calculate,” New York Times, December 29, 2004.
Figure 1. Map of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
Comparisons to Past Disasters3
In terms of estimated fatalities, the Indian Ocean tsunami ranks among the
world’s worst natural disasters, though it falls below other events. (See Table 1.)
The unique feature of this tsunami is the extent of the damage and the number of
countries affected. Unlike the damage caused by other disasters, which tended to be
highly localized, the Indian Ocean tsunami struck thousands of miles of populous
coastline in nearly a dozen countries, affecting millions of people. The devastation
was particularly acute in several island areas, where at times, entire land masses were
flooded. The very nature of the tidal waves, combined with the lack of warning,
made women, children, the elderly and others unable to swim particularly vulnerable.
Also, the potential deaths of thousands of tourists from the industrialized world
vacationing in southern Thailand and Sri Lanka — mostly Europeans but also many
Americans and Japanese — has given the Indian Ocean tsunami a higher profile than
3 Prepared by Mark Manyin, Specialist in Asian Affairs.
Table 1. Deadliest Natural Disasters
YearLocationEventEstimated Death Toll
1931Huang He River, Chinaflood3.7 million
1970 Bangladesh cyclone 300,000
1920Ningxia-Kansu, Chinaearthquake (8.6)200,000
1927Tsinghai, Chinaearthquake (7.9)200,000
1923Kanto region, Japanearthquake (7.9)143,000
1991 Bangladesh cyclone 139,000
1948Turkmenistan, USSRearthquake (7.3)110,000
1908 Messina, Italyearthquake (7.2) 70,000-100,000
Sources: Washington Post, December 30, 2004; U.S. Geological Survey.
* Official death toll. Unofficial estimates range as high as 655,000.
No natural disasters in recent memory compare with the magnitude and scope
of this earthquake and tsunami. Table 2 provides context, detailing the large-scale
U.S. assistance that followed after a previous natural disaster, the October 1998
Hurricane Mitch, which inflicted severe destruction upon several countries in central
Table 2. U.S. Governmental Assistance after Hurricane Mitch
(millions of U.S. dollars)
Country AssistedExisting U.S.Resources andSupplemental
(Estimated DeathDebt Relief atAppropriationTotal
Toll)Time of Disaster
El Salvador (370)19.435.154.5
Costa Rica (6)-9.09.0
Total 357.6 545.2 902.8
Even as the emergency response gained momentum in January, discussion of the
medium and long-term reconstruction of the area had already begun and continues
at international meetings and within the U.S. government. Ongoing damage
assessments related to reconstruction are underway in the affected countries. Experts
had already estimated the total damage to the region in the billions of dollars. In
Indonesia, a joint report issued by the government of Indonesia and the international
donor community estimates that the total cost of damages and losses is $4.45 billion.4
Secretary- General Kofi Annan said it could take ten years to bring parts of the region
back to full capacity.
The reconstruction effort will likely attempt to reduce the vulnerability of these
countries to similar disasters in the future. Although countries in the Pacific region
have a warning system for tsunamis (which are a relatively frequent occurrence), the
countries in the Indian Ocean lack such a coordinated response. In an effort to
improve disaster preparedness a review of the response to the earthquake and tsunami
may include an examination of the dissemination of information by national
governments to other governments and to their populace, communication between
regional governments about the course and damage of the storm, and local
governmental disaster response plans and procedures. See the section on early
warning systems later in this report.
4 “Indonesia: Preliminary Damage and Loss Assessment: The December 26, 2004 Natural
Disaster,” The Consultative Group on Indonesia, Government of Indonesia (State Minister
for National Planning Development Agency/BAPPENAS) and World Bank (for the
international donor community), January 19-20, 2005.
Table 3. Estimated Number of Persons Affected by
the Earthquake and Tsunamis
Indonesia 122,232 113,937 406,156
India 10,776 5,640 112,558
T hailand 5,395 3,062
Malays ia 68 6 8,000
Sources: Statistical data provided by USAID Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunamis Fact Sheet #36,
February 22, 2005.
As the disaster unfolded, the dilemma involved in prioritizing resource
allocations began to take shape: on the one hand, to try to save as many lives as
possible and on the other, to identify and dispose of bodies as death tolls continued
to rise. Multiple challenges have arisen because of the large number of countries
affected across a wide geographic area. Moreover, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Somalia
have been in conflicts that are as yet unresolved and present potential difficulties in
the distribution of aid. And there are millions of people displaced, separated from
their families and left with nothing. Critical problems vary by country, including the
condition of the infrastructure and response system, the scope of destruction, and
degree of access. The situation in each country is discussed later in the report. Initial
assessments indicated that the most urgent priorities in the affected areas were for
potable water, sanitation (and waste disposal), food, and shelter. As the transition to
recovery continues, water and sanitation activities, providing shelter to affected
communities, and monitoring health remain clear priorities.
5 Prepared by Rhoda Margesson, Foreign Affairs Analyst.
Relief Operations and Aid Delivery
Experts break relief operations into several phases: search and rescue; treatment
and survival; relocation and rehabilitation; and long-term reconstruction.6 As with
any massive undertaking that has many moving parts, it can take days to get a relief
effort underway. Delays in transportation and congestion, lack of transportation
infrastructure, bureaucratic problems, lack of access, all can cause bottlenecks at key
points in the system. While timing is critical to save lives, to enable a network of this
size to function efficiently requires the coordination of assessments and appropriate
responses with local governments, communities, and the international community.
In general, the relief effort has been viewed positively and the convening
authority of the United Nations has been well received. The sheer scale of this relief
effort has brought together tremendous capacity and willingness to help, but experts
generally caution that an ongoing effort and strategic planning at the regional and
country levels is required at each phase to work out coordination and logistics issues.
The relief effort is now focused primarily on recovery and rehabilitation.7
More detailed interagency assessments are underway, the information from
which will be critical for planning recovery and reconstruction initiatives, developing
strategies for the use of funding, and determining whether personnel are in place with
adequate resources. In certain areas, particularly in Indonesia, access and logistics
problems continue. There are logistical bottlenecks, and the lack of transportation
and adequate infrastructure remain a challenge. Concerns about disease and the need
for sanitation and medical capacity are still critical.
Impediments to aid in Indonesia appear to be particularly challenging for several
reasons. There are the obvious logistical difficulties. The destruction of transportation
infrastructure has made it difficult to extend assistance to all of the affected areas.8
The coordination of national and local level government with the military and relief
groups presents problems. The conflict between secessionists and the government has
also complicated the relief effort. The Indonesian military feels it has to look to both
relief and counter-insurgency operations. There is also the issue of national pride.
Indonesia was, like India, a leading member of the non-aligned movement. This may
be, in part, a reason for Indonesia’s decision to ask providers of foreign military
assistance to leave the country by March.
The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami created a natural disaster of historic
proportion. The massive relief and reconstruction effort underway also departs from
previous emergency operations in its scope and scale. The initial objectives of the
relief operation involving search and rescue, treatment and survival are thought to
6 “Relief: Massive Effort, Massive Need,” Christian Science Monitor, January 3, 2005.
7 See maps in Figures 2 and 3 at the end of this report for a regional overview of affected
countries and assistance requirements.
8 For example, according to USAID, a road north of Meulaboh, Indonesia is open to trucks
and passable for 67 kilometres, but the journey now takes 12 hours instead of the 2 it used
to take prior to the tsunami.
have been met: in the immediate post-tsunami period, basic needs were addressed
and further deaths were prevented. Although it is early to determine “lessons
learned,” the assessment of the response to the tsunami disaster so far has been
positive on many levels — from meeting basic humanitarian needs, to civil-military
coordination, information sharing, and working with national governments and
indigenous organizations. The operation has not been without its challenges, such
as bottlenecks in aid delivery, but all things considered, it is currently viewed by
many as largely successful.
In addition to working closely with the national governments of the countries
affected by the disaster, The United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has been the lead agency working with actors on
the ground, coordinating with the military, and enlisting donor support. As the
immediate humanitarian requirements of the operation have been fulfilled, a
transition to recovery and reconstruction is now taking place and the operation is
shifting from using military to civilian capacity for delivery of assistance. For the
foreseeable future, UNOCHA will continue as the lead agency.
The transition phase of the post-tsunami period will be challenging. While
emergency assistance and the need to guard against the outbreak of disease will
continue for some time, there is a new emphasis on conducting assessments and
planning for long-term reconstruction, and with that, priorities and funding are
beginning to shift.9 Initial assessments focused mainly on basic assistance needs;
now long-term challenges, such as creating jobs and housing, are become more
pressing. Host governments are also taking more of a lead in determining the
outcome of this next phase.
And with this transition, there are other issues to consider such as security and
political tensions, access for aid workers, and the return of displaced populations.
Within the relief operation, transparency and accountability at the United Nations,
but also with any organization receiving funds, remains a point of focus.
Coordinating the assessments, projects, and capabilities of numerous actors with host
governments will become more difficult as the complicated task of reconstruction
The World Health Organization (WHO), which is the lead agency for the
coordination of international public health response to disasters such as the tsunami,
and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), along with international
organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are all working to meet
the public health needs of the affected region. In the first week after the disaster,
WHO warned that the death toll could double if clean water, sanitation, medical
treatment, and relief supplies were not provided to the affected areas.10
9 See USAID, “Indian Ocean — Earthquake and Tsunamis,” Fact Sheet #32, February 8,
10 “Response to Enormity,” The Washington Post, December 29, 2004.
WHO continues to stress the need to guard against the risk of disease and further
deaths through surveillance and early warning systems. WHO remains particularly
concerned about disease outbreaks among the many vulnerable populations from
contaminated water sources and crowded, unsanitary living conditions, including
cholera, dysentery, malaria, and dengue fever. The numbers of injured are estimated
to be twice or three times the death toll. So far there do not appear to be any signs
of epidemics. WHO has also identified the need to address mental health issues and
rebuild the capacity of health systems as critical to recovery.11
Protection for Children and Separated Orphans12
Background. Trafficking in children goes on worldwide and may even be
increasing. Statistics on child trafficking, however, are very unreliable and official
estimates may reflect only a part of its actual extent. The Department of State’s 2004
Trafficking in Persons Report says that of the 600,000 - 800,000 persons trafficked
across international borders each year, 70% are female and 50% are children. In
addition, according to that report, many more people (probably millions) are
trafficked within countries. The International Labor Organization (ILO) puts the
number of children trafficked both internally and across borders annually at 1.2
million. All these numbers are estimates and no country is immune from trafficking,
including the United States.13
According to the United Nations, human trafficking is a highly lucrative global
industry controlled by powerful criminal organizations from which they derive many
billions in revenues annually. This places human trafficking just behind drug and
arms trafficking in terms of illicit revenues.Global experience in addressing child
trafficking, and distinct focus on the problem separate from the overall human
trafficking issue, is relatively new. The problem is huge in scope, multifaceted and
sensitive, both culturally and politically.
Both boys and girls are trafficked, as are children of all ages — some very
young children and some nearly adults. Trafficking in children is directly linked to
their subsequent exploitation. The forms of exploitation vary including commercial
sexual exploitation (for prostitution or pornography), use as domestic servants, as
bonded laborers, as beggars, in other illicit activities from drug running to burglaries,
as well as child soldiers. In addition, babies may be trafficked for adoption, and older
teens for marriage. In all cases constraints are put on the movement of the children
involved who are virtually enslaved. Girls are the chief victims of trafficking for
11 See “Questions and Answers: South Asia Earthquake and Tsunami,” World Health
Organization, January 14, 2005.
12 Prepared by Rhoda Margesson, Foreign Affairs Analyst.
13 “Anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States each
year, depending on the source. In addition, there are around 200,000 young people in
America who may be victims of trafficking within the United States.” Remarks of Under
Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, in Helsinki, Finland on June 3,
For background see also CRS Report RL30545 Trafficking in Persons: The U.S. and
International Response by Francis T. Miko.
sexual exploitation, domestic work and marriage. Boys and girls, however, are
subjected to trafficking and most forms of exploitation.14
The root causes of sale and trafficking of children are complex, and include
conditions of conflict and population movements, poverty, lack of employment
opportunities, low social status of the girl child, impunity from prosecution, and a
general lack of education and awareness. Children from minority groups, or those
who are undocumented, are particularly vulnerable to being trafficked.15 Situations
of massive dislocation due to natural disasters, like the recent tsunami in the Indian
Ocean, provide opportunities for syndicates to take advantage of the chaos and
breakdown of protection mechanisms that leave orphans and children separated from
their parents particularly vulnerable.
Tsunami Orphans: The Tsunami Generation. UNICEF, and other
organizations focused on the fate of children orphaned or separated from their
families amid the chaos of a disaster, acknowledge it is a multifaceted problem that
will take time to resolve. The scope of the problem in the tsunami-affected countries
is not fully known, and although there are only estimates of the number of children
orphaned or separated from their parents, UNICEF now states that the numbers of
unaccompanied and separated children are much lower than initially expected.
UNICEF refers to these children as the Tsunami Generation.
Early on after the tsunami struck, the United Nations, international organizations
and NGOs issued warnings of the risks to children left unprotected in the aftermath
of the tsunami. They are working on high-alert prevention mechanisms, including
raising awareness at camps, providing guidelines to officials and volunteers, urging
governments in affected countries to act, and identifying police and community
officials to be of assistance. International adoptions are considered very premature
and are not considered the best option for the child. Governments of affected
countries are working with UNICEF to prevent illegal adoptions and trafficking.
UNICEF has developed five key steps to protect children from exploitation,
including identification and registration; provision of immediate, safe care; tracing
and reunification with extended family members; alerting police and community
authorities; and working with governments of the affected countries to monitor the
problem. UNICEF is also encouraging children to go back to school as soon as
possible as a way of creating a more normal environment and beginning to deal with
the mental trauma of the disaster. See Appendix 2 for an overview of UNICEF’s
14 Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes: an Analytical Review, p. 17 at
[ h t t p : / / www. c s e c w o r l d c o n gr e s s . o r g/ P D F / e n /Yokohama/Backgr ound_reading/ T heme_p a
pers/ThemepaperTrafficking] in Children.pdf
15 A Child-Rights Approach on International Migration and Child Trafficking: a UNICEF
Perspective U.N. document: UN/POP/MIG/2004/9, October 18, 2004.
U.S. and International Assistance16
U.S. Emergency Assistance to the Region
Offers of assistance have greatly increased since December 26, 2004, as the
international community has come to realize the growing scale of the disaster. In the
case of the United States, American Ambassadors responsible for Sri Lanka, the
Maldives, India, and Indonesia provided $400,000 in immediate assistance in the
wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The United States Government then provided $4
million in additional assistance to the Red Cross. The United States Agency for
International Development (USAID)’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
immediately sent Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) to the region to
assess needs in the areas of sanitation, health, and other kinds of relief supplies.
On December 28, $10 million was allocated for the relief effort for a total
estimated initial contribution by the United States of around $15 million.17 As
reports of the growing scale of the disaster came in, the United States raised its
pledge to $35 million.18 By December 31, this number had increased to $350
million. Of this amount, as of February 22, 2005, USAID reports that more than
$120 million has been committed.19 For the latest breakdown of U.S. government
assistance to the region, see [http://www.usaid.gov].
Military assistance to the region, in coordination with international
organizations and NGOs, includes flights with relief aid, medical supplies, personnel,20
and equipment to affected areas. Initially, the U.S. Navy dispatched P-3 patrol
aircraft and an aircraft carrier to assist with relief operations. Helicopters were used
to deliver relief supplies and evacuate the injured. In addition, surface ships, landing
crafts and inflatable boats were positioned to provide relief supplies, including the
capacity to produce potable water, transport vehicles, generators and other
equipment. Military forensic teams deployed to Thailand and preventive medicine
units conducted assessments in Indonesia. By mid-January, more than 11,600
military personnel were involved in the relief operation with 17 ships and 75 aircraft.
The cost of total military spending to date as outlined in the supplemental request is
$226 million. As of February 14, 2005, Combined Support Force 536 ended its
operations in the tsunami-affected region.
16 Prepared by Rhoda Margesson, Foreign Affairs Analyst.
17 Secretary Colin Powell, Briefing with Assistant Administrator for United States Agency
for International Development Ed Fox,” U.S. Department of State, December 27, 2004.
18 John Harris and Robin Wright, “Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President’s Absence,”
The Washington Post, December 29, 2004.
19 Also see CRS Report RS22027 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunamis: Food Aid Needs
and the U.S. Response by Charles Hanrahan.
20 Additional information is available on a U.S. Pacific Command Fact Sheet at
On December 29, 1004, President Bush announced the formation of a donor
group consisting of the United States, Australia, India, and Japan to coordinate relief
and military capabilities in the region in the first weeks of the crisis. On January 6,
the Core Group joined the efforts of the United Nations Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as the lead agency on the relief effort.
Two interagency task forces were established — one to coordinate U.S.
government relief efforts and the other to assist in tracking missing Americans.
Eighteen Americans are confirmed dead, with another sixteen presumed dead.
Private sector assistance has already been substantial and is expected to continue
to grow.21 On January 3, President Bush announced that former Presidents George
H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton would lead a fundraising effort in the U.S. private sector
in support of the tsunami crisis. They traveled to the region to assess the damage
from February 18-21. Cash donations are being encouraged. It is too soon to
estimate the value of private relief supplies, which will be transported by DOD under
the Denton program.22
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and USAID
Administrator Andrew Natsios visited the affected region in early January 2005 to
assess the situation and whether the response is sufficient to meet the needs on the
ground. Several U.S. Congressional delegations have also traveled to the region over
the past few months.
The U.S. Emergency Response Mechanism
The United States is generally a leader and major contributor to relief efforts in
humanitarian disasters.23 In 2004 the United States contributed more than 2.4 billion
to disaster relief worldwide. In the case of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami,
it is clear that the response will require a major long-term effort beyond the relief and
recovery operation currently underway.24
21 See also CRS Report RL32738 Charitable Contributions for Tsunami Relief: P.L. 109-1
by Pamela L. Jackson.
22 The Denton program, named after former Member of Congress Jeremiah Denton,
authorizes shipment of privately donated humanitarian goods on U.S. military aircraft on a
space-available basis. The donated goods must be certified as appropriate for the disaster
by USAID’s OFDA and can be bumped from the transport if other U.S. government aid
must be transported.
23 For background information see CRS Report RL32714, International Disasters and
Humanitarian Assistance: U.S. Governmental Response, by Rhoda Margesson.
24 There are a number of variables that make reading the United States government numbers
and drawing accurate conclusions problematic. Questions about authority, definitions and
categories of services make up part of the reason it is a challenge to grasp the concept and
The President has broad authority to provide emergency assistance for foreign
disasters and the United States government provides disaster assistance through
several U.S. agencies. The very nature of humanitarian disasters — the need to
respond quickly in order to save lives and provide relief — has resulted in an
unrestricted definition of what this type of assistance consists of on both a policy and
operational level. While humanitarian assistance is assumed to provide for urgent
food, shelter, and medical needs, the agencies within the U.S. government providing
this support expand or contract the definition in response to circumstances. Funds
may be used for U.S. agencies to deliver the services required or to provide grants to
international organizations (IOs), international governmental and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), and private or religious voluntary organizations (PVOs).
USAID is the U.S. agency charged with coordinating U.S. government and private
sector assistance.25 It also coordinates with international organizations, the
governments of countries suffering disasters, and other governments.
OFDA in USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Response can respond immediately
with relief materials and personnel including personnel and materiel already located
in various countries around the world.26 It is responsible for the provision of non-food
humanitarian assistance and has disaster response teams (DARTS) which can be
assembled quickly to conduct assessments of the situation. OFDA has wide authority
to borrow funds, equipment, and personnel from other parts of USAID and other
federal agencies. USAID has two other offices that administer U.S. humanitarian
aid: Food For Peace (FFP) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). USAID
administers Title II of the FFP under P.L. 480 and provides relief and development
food aid that does not have to be repaid. OTI provides post-disaster transition
assistance, which includes mainly short-term peace and democratization projects with
some attention to humanitarian elements but not emergency relief.
The Department of Defense (DOD) Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic
Aid (OHDACA) appropriation funds three DOD humanitarian programs: the
Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP), the Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA)
Program, and Foreign Disaster Relief and Emergency Response (FDR/ER). The
office provides humanitarian support to stabilize emergency situations and deals with
a range of tasks including the provision of food, shelter and supplies, and medical
evacuations. In addition the President has the authority to draw down defense
equipment and direct military personnel to respond to disasters. The President may
function of humanitarian assistance. Another factor has to do with how the numbers are
generated in budgets within the U.S. government. Each agency has its own budget, with
its own criteria, accounting detail and regional specificity. The fact that an urgent response
to humanitarian crises is often required only compounds the problem. Budgets may reflect
regional support, a certain area, specific countries, or a combination thereof over time and
with changing events. Particularly in comparing assistance levels with other countries,
financial sources may be compared against other forms of assistance (blankets, etc.) or they
may reflect commitments of support rather than overall obligations.
25 Private donations may be made to the private agencies working the area which are listed
on the internet at [http://www.interaction.org.]
26 Authorized in Sec. 491-493 of P.L. 87-195, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
also use the Denton program to provide space available transportation on military
aircraft and ships to private donors who wish to transport humanitarian goods and
equipment in response to a disaster.
Generally, OFDA provides emergency aid which lasts 30-90 days. The same
is true for Department of Defense humanitarian assistance. After the initial
emergency is over, assistance is provided through other channels, such as the regular
country development programs of USAID.
The State Department also administers programs for humanitarian relief with
a focus on refugees and the displaced. Emergency Refugee and Migration Account
(ERMA) is a fund available until spent27 and provides wide latitude to the President
in responding to refugee emergencies. Emergencies lasting more than a year come
out of the regular Migration and Refugee Account (MRA) through the Population,
Migration and Refugees (PRM) bureau. PRM28 covers refugees worldwide, conflict
victims, and populations of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), often extended to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Humanitarian assistance includes a range of services from basic needs to community
Legi sl ati on29
Several bills pertaining to the Indian Ocean tsunamis and their after-effects have
been introduced in the 109th Congress.30 One of these bills, H.R. 241 (Thomas),
entitled To Accelerate the Income Tax Benefits for Charitable Cash Contributions
for the Relief of Victims of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, was the first legislative
measure passed by the 109th Congress to be signed into law; it became P.L. 109-1.
As of March 20, 2005, other pending bills included the following:
!H.Res. 12 (Hyde). Introduced and passed by the House on January
4, 2005; entitled Expressing condolences and support for assistance
to the victims of the earthquake and tsunamis that occurred on
December 26, 2004, in South and Southeast Asia.
!H.Res 120 (Blumenauer). Introduced and referred to the House
International Relations Committee and House Armed Services
Committee on February 17, 2005. Committee consideration and
mark-up session held on March 9, 2005; entitled Commending the
27 Governed by P.L. 103-326, the maximum amount is $100 million. Authorized in sections
28 When there is functional or programmatic overlap between USAID and PRM, they
coordinate with each other and define partners. Traditionally PRM is a funder of UNHCR
and other multilateral actors; USAID creates bilateral arrangements with NGOs. There is
now a shift in partnering due to funding and resources required.
29 Prepared by Nicolas Cook, African Affairs Specialist.
30 To assist the reader, this section repeats some legislation mentioned in the January 21,
outstanding efforts by members of the Armed Forces and civilian
employees of the Department of State and the United States Agency
for International Development in response to the earthquake and
tsunami of December 26, 2004.
!H.R. 60 (Jackson-Lee). Introduced and referred to the House
Committee on the Judiciary on January 4, 2005. Referred to the
House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
on March 2, 2005; entitled To designate Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia,
Thailand, Somalia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maldives, Tanzania,
Seychelles, Bangladesh, and Kenya under section 244 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act in order to render nationals of such
foreign states eligible for temporary protected status under such
!H.R. 397 (Menendez). Introduced and referred to the House
Committee on International Relations on January 26, 2005; entitled
To amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance
to children who are orphaned or unaccompanied as a result of the
tsunamis that occurred on December 26, 2004, in the Indian Ocean.
!H.R. 465 (Faleomavaega). Introduced and referred to the House
Committee on Resources on February 1, 2005. Referred to the
House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans on February 10,
2005; entitled To provide for the establishment of a tsunami hazard
mitigation program for all United States insular areas.
!H.R. 499 (Shays). Introduced and referred to the Committee on
International Relations, and in addition to the Committee on
Resources on February 1, 2005. Referred to the House
Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans on February 9, 2005; entitled
To provide for the development of a global tsunami detection and
warning system, to improve existing communication of tsunami
warnings to all potentially affected nations, and for other purposes.
!H.R. 882 (Boehlert). Introduced and referred to the House Science
Committee on February 17, 2005; referred to the Subcommittee on
Environment, Technology, and Standards on March 3, 2005; entitled
To require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
through the National Weather Service, to establish a tsunami hazard
mitigation program for all United States coastal States and insular
!H.R. 890 (Pallone). Introduced and referred to the House
International Relations Committee, the House Resources Committee
and the House Science Committee; referred to the Subcommittee on
Environment, Technology, and Standards on March 3, 2005; entitled
To provide for the establishment of national and global tsunami
warning systems and to provide assistance for the relief and
rehabilitation of victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and for the
reconstruction of tsunami-affected countries.
!H.R. 950 (Maloney). Introduced and referred to the House
Committee on International Relations on February 17, 2005; entitled
To authorize assistance to support programs to protect children who
are homeless or orphaned as a result of the tsunamis that occurred
on December 26, 2004, in the Indian Ocean from becoming victims
!H.R. 1011 (Maloney). Introduced and referred to the House
Committee on International Relations on March 1, 2005; entitled To
provide financial assistance to the United Nations Population Fund
to provide urgent medical and health care to tsunami victims in
Indonesia, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
!S.Res. 4 (Frist). Introduced and passed in the Senate on January 4,
2005; entitled A resolution expressing the sympathy and pledging
the support of the United States Senate and the people of the United
States for the victims of the powerful earthquake and devastating
tsunami that struck Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Kenya,
Malaysia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka,
Tanzania, Thailand, and other areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia,
and Africa, on December 26, 2004.
!S. 34 (Lieberman). Introduced and referred to the Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation on January 24, 2005;
entitled A bill to provide for the development of a global tsunami
detection and warning system, to improve existing communication
of tsunami warnings to all potentially affected nations, and for other
!S. 50 (Inouye). Introduced on January 24, 2005; ordered to be
reported an original measure by the Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation on February 2, 2005; ordered to be
reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably
on March 10, 2005; entitled A bill to authorize and strengthen the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s tsunami
detection, forecast, warning, and mitigation program, and for other
!S. 361 (Snowe). Introduced and referred to the Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation on February 10, 2005;
ordered to be reported without amendment favorably on March 10,
2005; entitled A bill to develop and maintain an integrated system
of ocean and coastal observations for the Nation’s coasts, oceans
and Great Lakes, improve warnings of tsunamis and other natural
hazards, enhance homeland security, support maritime operations,
and for other purposes.
!S. 452 (Corzine). Introduced and referred to the Committee on
Commerce, Science, and Transportation on February 17, 2005;
entitled A bill to provide for the establishment of national and global
tsunami warning systems and to provide assistance for the relief and
rehabilitation of victims fo the Indian Ocean tsunami and for the
reconstruction of tsunami-affected countries.
FY2005 Emergency Supplemental.31 On February 14, 2005, the
Administration submitted a supplemental request for Appropriations for Iraq and
Afghanistan, Tsunami Relief, and Other Activities which included $950 million to
support the countries affected by the tsunami. The United States made an early
pledge of $350 million for immediate relief efforts, but the Administration has
increased this amount by seeking $600 million in its request for a $950 million
FY2005 supplemental. Of this total, $346 million would be used to replenish USAID
emergency aid accounts that had been drawn in support of the initial American
government response ($120 million) and to reimburse DOD accounts ($226 million)
that were used in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami. The largest portion of the
Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction supplemental account ($581 million) would
be used for small transition and longer term large infrastructure activities. Of this
amount, up to $45 million could be used to provide debt relief to the affected
countries if their governments request such debt reduction. An additional $22.6
million would support creation of tsunami warning systems in the region and other
related activities. Out of the total $950 million request, $701 million falls under
international affairs budget accounts managed by USAID and the State Department.
Congressional Action. On March 16, 2005, the House passed H.R. 1268,
providing funds for all items proposed under the Tsunami Recovery and
Reconstruction Fund, except for the $45 million proposed for debt reduction. In
approving the tsunami relief money, the House Appropriations Committee noted its
support for education and women and children programs, and recommended that $10
million be used for training and equipment for women-led NGOs in tsunami-affected
countries. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to mark up a companion bill
when Congress returns from its recess in early April.
International Emergency Assistance to the Region
International recovery efforts are typically complex because they require
coordination among numerous different actors. Those responding to humanitarian
crises include U.N. agencies, international organizations, NGOs, PVOs, and bilateral
and multilateral donors. A great deal of assistance is provided by other governments
and international agencies. The U.N. OCHA tracks worldwide contributions to
31 This section draws on CRS Report RlL32783 FY2005 Supplemental Appropriations for
Iraq and Afghanistan, Tsunami Relief, and Other Activities by Amy Belasco and Larry
Nowels. See the section on Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction for more detailed
information on this legislation and congressional action.
disasters.32 According to the United Nations, as of March 9, 2005, pledges from the
international community for the Indian Ocean tsunami stand at over $12 billion.
Initially, the European Union pledged $40.5 million dollars. Australia pledged
$7.6 million dollars while France, Germany, Russia, Britain, Pakistan, and Italy
initially reacted by sending plane loads of assistance supplies. The International Red
Cross and the Red Crescent Societies were focused on an initial appeal of $6.6
million.33 Since then, donations have increased enormously (see Table 4). Australia
and Japan have stated that they will help build a tidal wave warning system which is
thought will cost tens of millions of dollars to establish.34
The U.N. agencies are also conducting damage assessments and reconstruction
estimates which will likely be used at donor conferences and planning for the future.
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and
Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, has stated that “the cost of the
devastation will be in the billions of dollars. It would probably be in the many
billions of dollars,” making it one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in
history.35 On January 6, the United Nations and its partners launched a flash appeal
for $977 million.
It is well known that in previous disasters, pledges made by governments have
not always resulted in actual contributions. Billions of dollars have been pledged to
help the victims of the tsunami disaster. Reconstruction will be costly and take time.
Maintaining enough pressure on donors to honor their pledges while securing funds
needed for other disaster areas requires a delicate balance, particularly if donor
fatigue is to be avoided.36
The table below reflects the most recent data available on relief and
reconstruction pledges and contributions.
32 The information is only as complete as the various governments’ willingness to report the
information. It does not include non-cash contributions in services or in kind (such as trucks
and aircraft, crews, and emergency and medical personnel).
33 “World Scrambles to Help Asia Tidal Victims,” Agence France Presse, December 27,
34 “Officials in Asia Concede That They Failed to Issue Warnings,” Associated Press,
December 27, 2004.
35 Colum Lynch, “Billions in Aid Needed for Devastated Areas, U.N. Official Says,” The
Washington Post, December 28, 2004.
36 Information for this section was drawn from interviews, the USAID fact sheets, reports
by various U.N. agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations
available at [http://www.reliefweb.org].
Table 4. Governmental, Inter-Governmental, and Private
Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Pledges and Contributions
as of March 9, 2005
(millions of U.S. dollars; governments ranked by
paid contributions as of March 9, 2005)
Country/Agency DonorGovt PaidContributionsaGovt UnpaidPledges*Paid andaPrivate
J a pan 493.68 6.87 500.55 NA
Germany 105.81 576.98 682.79 619.8
Norway 77.86 96.35 174.21 61
China 50.25 14.00 64.25 1.8
Canada 38.84 311.82 350.67 122
Denmark 38.20 40.36 78.56 35
Netherlands 37.54 230.42 267.97 150
Australiac 33.30 397.84 431.14 177
France 29.59 413.23 442.82 90
Gr eece 26.53 0.00 26.53 22.5
It aly 26.02 86.84 112.86 20
Sweden 23.08 53.80 76.88 75
India 23.00 0.00 23.00 NA
Qatar 22.00 3.00 25.00 NA
Switzerland 20.04 0.00 20.04 110
Belgium 19.93 20.35 40.28 40
Finland 18.07 51.13 69.20 28
Portugal 16.21 0.00 16.21 5
T a iwan NA NA 50.00 -NA-
Other Private by CountryNANANA225.05
Totals 1,389.73 2,564.27 4,518.30 3,189.77
Institutions (IFIs)and Pledges
Asian Development Bank
(initial support)NANA775.00 —
World Bank (first phase
IFI Totals3,722.94 —
Intergovernmental Commitment s
Organization Pledgesand Pledges
European Commission19.00474.90493.89 —
U.N. organizations and
Arab Gulf FundNANA0.10 —
Total Pledges and
Category 9,194.22 3,189.77
Total Pledges and
Source: Table compiled by Nicolas Cook, African Affairs Specialist, Foreign Affairs, Defense and
Note: Some pledges are conditional or prospective, and data on both pledges and commitments is
currently subject to change on a daily basis. In addition to the pledges noted above, numerous
countries, including the United States, have made in-kind and other contributions for which no value
is specified in available reporting data. The value of the resources that affected countries are devoting
to their own tsunami relief and reconstruction are not included above.
a. Data sources: U.N. OCHA, Indian Ocean Earthquake-Tsunami 2005, Financial Tracking Tables,
March 9, 2005, [http://www.reliefweb.int/fts]; international organization data; and
supplementary national government information. Totals shown may differ from the sum of
individual entries, due to rounding. A Reuters news report (Reuters, “Nations Pledge Aid after
Tsunami Disaster,” Jan. 28, 2005) indicates that some countries may have pledged different
amounts than those reported by UN OCHA, the source of the national data reported above.
b. Except as noted, the source for all private donation figures is Reuters, “Nations Pledge Aid...,” Jan.
28, 2005. Source for U.S. entry is InterAction, “Disaster Response Relief Barometer,” Mar. 4,
2005, [http://www.interaction.org/disaster/relief_barometer.html], which is currently being
updated weekly. Source of entries for Italy, Sweden, France, China, and South Korea is BBC
News, “Tsunami aid: Who’s giving what,” Jan. 27, 2005; source for Germany is Reuters,
“German Private Tsunami Aid Exceeds 475 Mln Euros,” Jan. 25, 2005; and source for Mexico
is Nick Cumming-Bruce, “Tsunami aid arriving with rare speed,” International Herald Tribune,
March 1, 2005.
c. Australia has pledged a larger aid package than the data reported by OCHA suggest. See AusAID,
documents under “Indian Ocean Disaster,” notably “Australia’s Response,” and “$1 billion aid
package to Indonesia,” on the webpage [http://www.ausaid.gov.au/hottopics].
International Donor Conferences
On January 6, 2005, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held
an emergency meeting to discuss coordination of international relief efforts and
managing logistical obstacles that have delayed the delivery of aid in certain areas.37
A meeting of summit leaders took place in Jakarta on January 6 and focused on
increasing donor contributions and coordination of the relief effort.38 A large
international donors conference took place on January 11 in Geneva.
International science ministers finalized plans for a global observing system in
Brussels, Belgium, February 15, 2004. That system would be the backbone on which
a regional tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean would be built. The
United States is not expected to provide details of its commitment to the
internationally sponsored global tsunami early warning network prior to the
convening of the G-8 summit in July 2005. Experts from Indian Ocean countries
affected by the December 26, 2004 tsunami and other countries met at the U.N.
Interagency Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in Paris, France, March 1-3, 2005, to
plan a coordinated tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean and to review
countries’ financial commitments. The Director of the U.N. International Strategy
for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) chaired the meeting.
Situation Report on Countries
Affected by the Tsunami
The current situation, as of March 18, 2005, in each affected country is
described below with brief background descriptions, reports of the damage, and
highlights of the emergency response.
37 ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
38 “Special ASEAN Meeting Thursday to Coordinate Tsunami Response,” Agence France-
Presse, January 3, 2005.
I ndonesi a 39
The northern part of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, especially the
northernmost province of Aceh, was closest to the epicenter of the Indian Ocean
earthquake. Successive tidal waves of 30 to 50 feet high slammed into Aceh’s west
coast of nearly 200 miles. As of the end of February 2005, the Indonesian
government estimated over 127,000 killed and over 116,000 missing. Aerial surveys
of Aceh’s west coast from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, southward for about
150 miles revealed near total destruction of towns and villages with many of them
underwater. The coastal area was isolated with no aid getting through until January
Initial international aid is coming through the reopened Banda Aceh airport and the
airport at Medan, a major city south of Aceh. The United States, Australia, and
Singapore were supplying the bulk of aid, and non-government humanitarian groups
were also active.
The initial input of aid brought forth partial recovery in Banda Aceh: the
reopening of markets, the restoration of power and water to 40% of the city, and
shipments of fuel supplies into the city. Indonesian government efforts to remove
massive debris and bury thousands of dead people were making progress, although
much remained to be done. Beginning on January 1, U.S. SH-60 Bravo helicopters
flying off the U.S. aircraft carrier, Abraham Lincoln, were delivering food and water
to the isolated towns and villages down Aceh’s west coast from Banda Aceh. On
January 2, U.S. navy helicopters, numbering about 25, flew 27 missions and
delivered 80,000 pounds of supplies. Indonesian navy helicopters also were
delivering supplies to these towns and villages, but the Indonesian military only has
few helicopters in Sumatra. Providing adequate water to the thousands of Acehnese
stranded along the west coast has been difficult. Medical treatment of numerous
injuries also has been difficult. Many of the injured have to be transported by
helicopter to medical facilities at Banda Aceh, which strains the helicopter fleet
The Indonesian military (TNI) controls the relief supplies at the Banda Aceh
and Medan airports. Until January 1, the TNI initially refused to allow foreign relief
airplanes to land at Banda Aceh. Indonesian President Susilio Yudhoyono apparently
overrode military opposition to foreign relief deliveries. Since then, several TNI
commanders have cooperated with American, Australian, and Singaporean military
units, and they have praised the U.S. military relief effort.
Nevertheless, on January 11 and 12, the Indonesian military and government
officials announced restrictions on future foreign relief operations in Aceh. The main
restrictions are termination of all foreign military relief operations by March 26;
restrictions on plans by U.S. Marines to move significant quantities of aid and
manpower into the west coast of Aceh; the establishment of TNI operational control
over all foreign relief operations; a requirement that a TNI officer be on board any
foreign aircraft engaged in relief; confinement of foreign aid workers to the towns of
39 Prepared by Larry Niksch, Specialist in Asian Affairs, and Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in
Banda Aceh and Meulaboh unless they receive TNI permission to operate elsewhere;
and a requirement that aid workers operating outside Banda Aceh and Meulaboh
must be accompanied by TNI personnel.
U.S. and other foreign militaries began to withdraw in February 2005, and a
complete withdrawal likely will occur by the March 26 deadline. The Indonesian
government also announced that it would issue a master plan on March 26 to shift the
aid effort in Aceh from humanitarian assistance to reconstruction. As part of this, the
government disclosed that it was reviewing the presence of foreign non-government
groups (NGOs) in Aceh and that it would order some of these to depart on or around
Foreign aid donor countries pledged $1.7 billion in reconstruction aid for Aceh
in 2005, and they offered to reschedule Indonesian foreign debt repayments of up to
$2 billion. This is on top of $3.4 billion in development aid to Indonesia.
Indonesia’s plans to establish relocation centers to initially house 30,000
Acehnese tsunami refugees, then an additional 60,000, remains controversial. The
military will have a role in operating the centers. In the past, the military has
practiced forced relocation of Acehnese as a counter-insurgency tool. Foreign NGOs
are reluctant to be involved in this program. There are an estimated 380,000 refugees
in Aceh. The military has admitted that it has continued to carry out operations
against Free Aceh insurgents, despite the military’s self-proclaimed cease-fire after
TNI attitudes are governed by an insurgency in the province that has gone on
since 1976. Anti-Indonesia forces (the Free Aceh Movement — GAM) seek
independence for the province and cite decades of repressive Indonesian rule as
justification for their uprising. The Indonesian military (TNI) long has been accused
of committing atrocities and other human rights abuses in Aceh and being involved
in corrupt practices there. In May 2003, the Indonesian government, under pressure
from the TNI, ended a six-month-long cease-fire with the insurgents and declared
martial law. The TNI suppressed separatist political activity and reported resumed
severe human rights violations. The TNI also banned foreigners from Aceh,
including aid workers. The government lifted the ban on foreign aid workers on
December 27, 2004; but the restrictions announced on January 11 and 12, 2005,
appear motivated, at least in part, by a desire of the TNI to restore Aceh as much as
possible to the pre-tsunami situation of closure to foreigners. TNI commanders
justify the restrictions as needed to protect aid workers from the GAM and prevent
relief supplies from falling into the hands of GAM. However, GAM has declared a
cease-fire and asserts that it welcomes the foreign presence. The TNI reportedly has
pressed for a reduction of the foreign NGO presence in Aceh after March 26, 2005.
The government and the GAM renewed peace talks in February 2005 in Helsinki,
Finland. The GAM dropped its demand for independence and proposed “self-rule.”
It continued to reject the Indonesian government “special autonomy” plan for Aceh,
contending that the plan actually provided for continued centralized rule from
Jakarta. Indonesian delegates said they would take the GAM’s proposals to Jakarta
and that the Indonesian government would reply at the next round of talks.
The TNI also has facilitated the entrance into Aceh of Islamic militant groups,
allegedly for relief operations. The TNI provided air transport, provisions, and
housing to these groups. One of these groups, the Mujahideen Council of Indonesia
(MMI) is viewed by U.S. terrorism experts, such as Zachary Abuza (currently with
the U.S. Institute of Peace) as a political front for Jemaah Islamiya, Al Qaeda’s
regional terrorist arm in Southeast Asia.40 The TNI’s support of MMI’s entrance into
Aceh raises questions regarding the TNI’s relations with and policies toward Islamic
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice certified in February 2005 that Indonesia is
cooperating in investigating the killings and wounding of an American teacher in
Papua in August 2002. This will end the congressional restriction on Indonesian
participation in the IMET program. The Bush Administration has viewed military-
to-military cooperation in tsunami relief as an opportunity to restore full military-to-
military relations with Indonesia.
The Indian Ocean tsunami hit Sri Lanka particularly hard, killing over 31,000.
An estimated 40% of those killed in Sri Lanka were children. Between 441,410 and
504,440 were homeless as of mid-January 2005. Of these, an estimated 186,000 are
thought to have been taken in by friends and family while some 250,000 were placed
in welfare centers and makeshift camps. As of mid-March 2005 over 4,700 people
were still missing.42 Tsunami related damages have been estimated at $1.8 billion.
Sri Lanka has requested some debt forgiveness and a two-year hold on its $8.8243
In the immediate wake of the disaster, President Bush expressed his condolences
to the victims over the “terrible loss of life and suffering.”44 In the aftermath of the
tsunami, the State Department issued a travel advisory warning Americans to avoid
Sri Lanka.45 The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States, Devinda Subasinghe,
stated that up to 70% of the Sri Lankan coast was damaged. This differs from
Indonesia where only a small percentage of the coast was affected. By January 18 the
situation in Sri Lanka had improved significantly and widespread disease had not
emerged. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz reportedly observed during
40 Interview with Zachary Abuza, January 13, 2005. Abuza, Jachary. Militant Islam in
Southeast Asia. Boulder and London, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003. p. 140-158.
41 Prepared by Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
42 “The Tsunami Toll,” The Irish Times, March 14, 2005.
43 “State of Play in Tsunami-hit Countries,” Reuters, January 14, 2005.
44 Brian Knowlton, “Officials Gather in Jakarta,” International Herald Tribune, January 6,
45 Deb Riechman, “Bush Sends Condolences to Asia, Offers Aid,” Associated Press,
December 27, 2004.
his visit to Sri Lanka that the nation was moving from the relief and rescue stage of
operations to the reconstruction and rehabilitation stage.46
The United States Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, which had
been in Guam, was ordered to the Bay of Bengal to provide assistance to affected
countries. The seven ships in the strike group have 25 helicopters, 2,100 marines and
1,400 sailors which provided assistance. The head of the Pacific Command, Admiral
Thomas Fargo, also ordered two ships out of the squadron based in Diego Garcia to
provide assistance as well as five pre-positioned ships located in Guam. Each pre-
positioned ship can store 90,000 gallons of fresh water and produce 36,000 gallons
The U.S. government has provided $62 million in “emergency food assistance,
relief supplies, shelter, water and sanitation, health, livelihoods recovery,
psychological and social support, protection and anti-trafficking, logistics and
coordination, and cleanup and rehabilitation activities” in Sri Lanka.48 In mid-March,
the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers began surveys for signature projects such as the
bridge over Arugam Bay, replacing vocational technical schools, and reconstruction
of fishing harbors. U.S. assistance in Sri Lanka has also sought to revive the post
tsunami economy through micro-finance programs that seek to reach some 30,000
families involved in tourism, textile, fishing, and handicraft industries in tsunami
affected areas.49 Of the 33 Americans thought killed by the tsunami, 9 are thought
to have died in Sri Lanka.50
Sri Lanka apparently mobilized its limited resources to deal with the disaster in
a more effective way than was originally thought likely. In the initial post disaster
phase Andrew Natsios, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development,
stated that “I think the Sri Lankans basically are telling us this is so massive, they are
being overwhelmed by it.”51 It was estimated on December 30 that some 10,000 to
12,000 Sri Lankans were injured. Sri Lanka’s transportation links to the affected
areas collapsed. Rail connections to the south had closed. In the immediate post
tsunami period truckers refuse to travel south for fear of another tsunami. Some of
the estimated one million land mines set during ongoing Sri Lanka’s civil war —
between the government and ethnic Tamil rebels in the north and east — were
reportedly unearthed and shifted during the flood. The Tamil rebel group, the
46 “US Official Wolfowitz Visits Tsunami Hit Area in Sri Lanka,” BBC News, January 17,
47 Marc Grossman, “News Briefing on Indian Ocean Disaster Relief,” Federal Document
Clearing House, December 29, 2004 and Ralph Cossa, “U.S. Provides Backbone for Relief
Operation,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 4, 2005.
48 “Indian Ocean-Earthquake and Tsunamis,” Agency for International Development,
February 8, 2005.
49 “USAID Tsunami Reconstruction,” [http://www.usaid.gov/locations
50 “US Estimates Tsunami Killed 33 Americans,” Washington Post, February 9, 2005.
51 Marc Grossman, “News Briefing on Indian Ocean Disaster Relief,” Federal Document
Clearing House, December 29, 2004.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), complained that aid is not getting through
to Tamil areas.52 The Sri Lankan army has a fleet of only 12 helicopters.53
By January 18, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz traveled to Sri
Lanka and observed Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts and reportedly stated that Sri Lanka
may now be at the point where it no longer needs U.S. military assistance. U.S.
helicopters conducted 1,500 disaster relief missions across the region. In connection
with secessionist strife in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Wolfowitz also remarked that “...
hopefully they realize the stakes for which they’re fighting are trivial in
comparison.”54 U.S. military assistance has reportedly stayed away from Tamil areas
of Sri Lanka in an effort to avoid the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. India has
reportedly been providing assistance to Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.55 As the relief effort
evolves, it has moved to address issues of protection of survivors and to providing
assistance for psychological social program elements.
A protest in Trincomalee in March 2005 attested to discontent amongst some
Sri Lankans with the lack of coordination and slow distribution of disaster relief
assistance.56 The LTTE has complained that aid has not been getting through to areas
under their control.57 Sri Lanka has reportedly been pledged over one billion dollars
in disaster relief but only a small amount of that money had been delivered by March
2005.58 By mid-March 2005, the LTTE had reportedly agreed in principle to a deal
brokered by the Norwegians that would establish a joint mechanism for distribution
of aid. The government’s coalition partner, the JVP, reportedly greeted the proposal
with the threat that they could withdraw their support from the government if the
LTTE are given any say in how relief assistance is distributed.59
The two sectors of the Sri Lankan economy most affected are tourism and
fisheries. Hundreds of hotels are damaged or destroyed. In one poll, 30% of tourists
said that they were deterred from visiting tsunami affected areas.60 Tourism accounts
for 11% of the Sri Lankan economy. It is expected that there will be a 8% drop in
tourism this year there.61 Sri Lanka’s fishing fleet in the affected areas has been
badly damaged. Sri Lanka harvests a reported 300,000 tons of fish annually for
52 “After the Tsunami the Rising Cost,” The Age, December 30, 2004.
53 Paddy Murphy, “Call for Choppers,” The Australian, December 30, 2004.
54 Joss White, “Wolfowitz Cites Sri Lanka’s Progress on Reconstruction,” The Washington
55 “State of Play in Tsunami-hit Countries,” Reuters, January 14, 2005.
56 “Sri Lankan Tsunami Victims Stage Demonstrations,” Xinhua News Agency, March 14,
57 “Rebels Accept Draft Agreement,” Radio Australia, Australian Broadcasting Corporation,
March 14, 2005.
58 “Strike Grips Northeastern Sri Lankan Town,” Agence France Presse, March 14, 2005.
59 “Lanka Aid,” Organization of Asia-Pacific News, March 13, 2005.
60 “Tsunami Effect Lingers on,” The Hindustan Times, March 11, 2005.
61 “Survey Names Countries Likely Hurt by Tsunami,” Thai News Service, March 14, 2005.
domestic consumption. Much of this is caught by subsistence fishermen.62 Sri Lanka
announced that it is postponing the South Asian games that it had planned to host in
August 2005 in order that it may focus on reconstruction efforts. The government
has announced a rural entrepreneurship program to help the economy recovery.63
One challenge facing farmers in affected areas is the salination of their fields due to
salt water innundation. It is not clear whether the fresh water resources are sufficient
to address this problem.64 The Sri Lankan rupee began to strengthen in mid-March
The Sri Lankan government has issued guidelines for construction near the
coast. Residential and commercial construction must be at least 100 meters from the
coast in the western and southern coastal zones. In the north and east it must be 200
meters from the coast. The LTTE have established a buffer of between 300 and 500
meters in areas under their control. This has created problems because the
government reportedly does not have sufficient land to offer to those displaced from
this coastal zone.66
Sri Lanka is a constitutional democracy with relatively high educational and
social standards.67 The country’s political, social, and economic development has
been seriously constrained by two decades of ethnic conflict between the majority
Sinhalese and minority Tamil ethnic groups. Since 1983, a separatist war costing
some 64,000 lives has been waged against government forces by the LTTE, which
has been seeking to establish a separate state in the Tamil-dominated areas of the
north and east. Though Sri Lanka lost fewer people than Indonesia, it lost them out
of a smaller population. Sri Lanka lost over 30,000 out of a total population of
approximately 20 million while Indonesia’s losses are out of a population of over 220
million. Further, Sri Lanka suffered destruction on approximately 70% of its coast
while the area affected in Indonesia was much more localized.
I ndi a 68
As of January 18, 2004, India is believed to have suffered up to 16,000 deaths
and $2.2 billion in financial losses as a result of the Indian Ocean tsunami.69 Waves
62 Amy Waldman and James Brooke, Disaster’s Damage to Economies may be Minor,” The
New York Times, January 3, 2005.
63 “Sri Lanka Economy Will Be Revamped,” Xinhua News, March 13, 2005.
64 Gracia Sarmiento, “Salt Water Hurting Tsunami Affected Farms,” Dow Jones, March 13,
65 “Sri Lankan Rupee Firms,” Reuters, March 14, 2005.
66 “How Aid Efforts are Helping Townspeople to Rebuild,” National Public Radio, February
67 For additional information see CRS Report RL31707, Sri Lanka: Background and U.S.
Relations, by Bruce Vaughn.
68 Prepared by Alan Kronstadt, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
69 “India Tsunami Costs ‘Hit $1.6 Billion,’” BBC News, January 7, 2005. On January 13,
12-14 feet high struck India’s eastern coast approximately three hours after the first
tremor. Many or most of those killed in the populous southeastern state of Tamil
Nadu reportedly were women and children.70 The city of Nagapattinam, a fishing
community some 150 miles south of Madras (Chennai), was devastated by the ocean
surge which advanced the shoreline up to 100 meters inland along the Tamil Nadu
coast. (USAID officials reported tsunami-related destruction in Tamil Nadu more
than one kilometer inland.) Nagapattinam alone eventually may account for up to
20,000 deaths, and more than 650,000 Tamil Nadu residents are said to have been
displaced or otherwise affected by the tsunami.71 The southernmost of India’s
Andaman and Nicobar Islands sit only 80 miles from the earthquake epicenter in the
Bay of Bengal. Some 30,000 residents of the archipelago lived on the nearly flat
island of Car Nicobar, where an Indian air force base was completely submerged.
Car Nicobar alone may account for up to one-third of deaths in the remote
archipelago; one report claims that 12 of the island’s 15 villages were “obliterated”
by the tsunami.72 Severe flooding in all affected regions has contaminated water
systems and, combined with the existence of many corpses floating in coastal areas,
raised concerns that lethal waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhea may
become epidemic.73 The Tamil Nadu economy is heavily reliant on marine product
exports and is expected to suffer major losses with the destruction of tens of
thousands of fishing boats and nets. Shipping came to a virtual standstill at the
Madras port (south India’s largest), and the region’s tourist industry has been
devastated by physical damage and booking cancellations. Madras’s 8-mile beach,
said to be the world’s second-longest, has been nearly deserted since December 26.74
India was considered by many to have had a well established disaster
management system. The United States has been engaged with Indian in disaster
training and technical assistance through USAID for some years.75 However,
numerous critics of the Indian relief effort have spoken out in 2005. At least one
United Nations expert called the recent disaster a “wake-up call”for Indian planners
the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs was reporting 10,672 Indians confirmed dead and
another 5,711 missing.
70 T.S. Subramanian, “Killer Waves,” Frontline (Madras), January 14, 2005.
71 S. Anand, “The Big Churn,” Outlook India (Delhi), December 30, 2004; USAID Fact
Sheet #7, FY2005, January 2, 2005.
72 Pankaj Sekhsaria, “Andaman’s Agony,” Frontline (Madras), January 14, 2005; Janaki
Kremmer, “No easy Access For Remote Islands,” Christian Science Monitor, January 4,
73 “India Turns Down Foreign Relief Aid,” ANSA English Media Service, December 29,
2004; “Tsunami-Hit India Struggles to Channel Flood of Aid to Needy,” Agence France
Presse, January 2, 2005.
74 S. Anand, “The Big Churn,” Outlook India (Delhi), December 30, 2004; “Tsunami
Washes Away Tourism,” Times of India (Delhi), December 27, 2004; Chris Tomlinson,
“World’s Second-Longest Beach, Center of Madras Life, Abandoned After Tsunami,”
Associated Press Newswires, January 5, 2004.
75 Marc Grossman, “News Briefing on Indian Ocean Disaster Relief,” Federal Document
Clearing House, December 29, 2004.
who allegedly failed to learn from past experience, and Indian Red Cross officials
spoke of “chaotic” relief management and the “hijacking”of aid supplies by
government workers in Port Blair, the Andaman and Nicobar capital. A Hong Kong-
based human rights group described India’s relief efforts as “pathetic,” specifying
lack of interagency coordination and caste discrimination as key problems. New
York-based Human Rights Watch itself highlighted inequitable aid distribution and
urged the Indian government to do more to ensure that the Dalit (so-called
untouchable) community was not discriminated against in disaster-stricken areas.76
Following the tsunami, the Indian government immediately released $115
million for the National Contingency Relief Fund. For some days after the disaster,
New Delhi did not request international assistance and turned down emergency aid
offers from the United States, Russia, Japan, and Israel, saying that indigenous
capabilities are sufficient. Later, the Indian government did request long-term
rehabilitation aid from both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. As
of January 15, 2005, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance had
committed just above $3.1 million for emergency relief activities in India.77 More
than 5,000 Indian navy personnel used 27 ships, 19 helicopters, and six naval aircraft
to deliver many hundreds of tons of relief supplies. The Indian prime minister has
promised a payment of approximately $2,300 to the next of kin of each of those
killed. India also has pledged $22 million in disaster aid to Sri Lanka and $2 million
for Maldives and dispatched several naval ships to Sri Lanka, Maldives, and
Indonesia. 78 According to the external affairs minister, New Delhi had disbursed
$250 million on relief and rehabilitation efforts in India through January 4.79
76 Rajesh Moudgil, “‘A Wake-Up Call for India,” Hindustan Times (Delhi), January 2, 2005;
“Tsunami-Hit India Struggles to Channel Flood of Aid to Needy,” Agence France Presse,
January 2, 2005; “Aid to Indian Islands ‘Hijacked,’” BBC News, January 13, 2005; “Rights
Body Says India’s Tsunami Relief Efforts ‘Pathetic,’” Agence France Presse, January 10,
January 14, 2005. See also K.P.S. Gill, “Combined Muddled Group,” Outlook India
(Delhi), January 14, 2005.
77 World Bank Press Release, January 11, 2005; USAID Fact Sheet #20, FY2005, January
15, 2005. Some observers believe that New Delhi’s reliance on indigenous capabilities and
sizeable aid contributions to neighboring states grow at least partly from a desire to have
India seen as a major and self-sufficient power. India’s rejection of external aid brought
criticism from some quarters and reportedly has caused skepticism about motives among
some diplomats. At least one report suggested that a U.S. military presence in Sri Lanka
was being viewed by New Delhi as a symbolic intrusion into India’s sphere of influence
(“Post-Tsunami India’s Image Rises Globally,” Hindustan Times (Delhi), January 5, 2005;
Edward Luce, “India Aims to Be Part of the Solution,” Financial Times (London), January
6, 2005; “US-India Struggle For Control in Disaster Zone,” Telegraph (Calcutta), January
78 “Earthquake and Tsunamis Wreak Devastation in Indian Ocean Region,” Embassy of
India Press Release; “The Indian Relief Effort,” Embassy of India Press Release.
79 “Statement by External Affairs Minister Shri K. Natwar Singh at the Special Meeting of
Leaders Convened by ASEAN in the Aftermath of the Earthquake and Tsunami,” Embassy
of India Press Release, January 6, 2005.
In early January, the Tamil Nadu government was reporting that 412 relief
camps had been established and held more than 300,000 people (at least 500,000 of
the state’s citizens had been evacuated). That government also will provide special
relief packages to families suffering loss of homes. By January 17, 41 relief camps
were still hosting about 44,000 citizens.80
Much of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are off-limits to foreigners due to the
presence of military facilities and to protect the region’s aboriginal tribes.
International aid agencies have requested access to the islands, where relief efforts
are hampered by the destruction of most of the islands’ jetties. Emergency crews
there focused on burying the dead to prevent epidemics (it is Hindu custom to
cremate the dead).81
India is the world’s second most populous country with nearly 1.1 billion
residents. The U.N. Development Program’s 2004 Human Development Report
assigns India a ranking of 127 out of 177 world countries, a status comparable to that
of Morocco or Cambodia. Despite the existence of widespread and serious poverty,
many observers believe that India’s long-term economic potential is tremendous, and
the current growth rate of the Indian economy (8.2% for the year ending July 2004)
is amongst the highest in the world. The estimated gross domestic product in 2004
was just above $3 trillion, or $2,900 per capita (both figures in purchasing power
parity terms).82 India was allocated about $177 million in U.S. assistance for FY2004
and FY2005 combined, along with another $65 million in food aid. India has
recently dealt with a major disaster, an earthquake that struck the western Gujarat
state in January 2001, killing some 20,000 persons, injuring another 200,000, and
leaving nearly one million homeless. New Delhi reportedly intends to purchase a $29
million tsunami warning system to be functional in 2007. Some observers believe
that such a purchase would be unwise, given the rarity of tsunamis in the region.83
Indian administrators continue to receive harsh criticism for perceived
interference with relief efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, interference that
allegedly has caused considerable and unnecessary suffering for tsunami victims
t h ere. 84
80 Government of Tamil Nadu, “Rescue and Relief Operations” at
[ h t t p : / / www.t n.gov.i n/ t s una mi / r e s c u e .ht m] .
81 “Foreign NGOs Seek Andamans Access,” BBC News, January 3, 2005.
82 C.I.A. World Factbook 2004; UNDP Human Development Report 2004.
83 “India to Install Tsunami System,” Asia Pulse (Sydney), January 4, 2005; T.V.R. Shenoy,
“How Not to Respond to a Tsunami,” Indian Express (Delhi), January 13, 2005.
84 Colin Gonsalves, “The Deadly Bureaucracy in the Andamans,” Indian Express (Bombay),
January 26, 2005.
Thai l a nd85
Six provinces on the western coast of southern Thailand, particularly the Phang
Nga province and the resort islands of Phuket and Phi Phi, were badly hit by sea
surges stemming from the underwater quake. Over 5,300 dead have been identified
and over 3,000 remain missing, most of whom are presumed dead.86 Officials said
that about half of the dead were foreign vacationers, many from Europe. Many
oceanfront properties, particularly hotels, were destroyed in the wave. Compared to
other affected nations, however, the infrastructure in Thailand was left relatively
unscathed: the regional electricity grid and telecommunication network continued to
function, and the transportation system and water supply in Phuket were largely
The emergency response in Thailand was praised by the international
community. United Nations and Australian relief agency officials described effective
and rapid coordination of grass roots relief teams to distribute supplies and provide
first aid. Some credited Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s strong political
authority to command the military and police forces and his hands-on leadership.
Thaksin has also come out strongly in favor of establishing a tsunami alert system in
cooperation with other regional governments. Scattered press reports initially
accused government officials of declining to evacuate the island despite receiving a
warning, based partially on fears of hurting the tourism industry.87 Such criticism has
largely subsided, however, and Thaksin’s popularity ratings have increased based on
his leadership in the wake of the disaster. On February 7, 2005, Thaksin was elected
to a second term.
The diplomatic and logistical challenge of the disaster in Thailand was different
from the other affected countries. Because at least 36 nationalities were represented
among the victims, many consulates were directly involved in the tasks of identifying
the dead. Sweden was the hardest hit, with up to 1,900 missing initially. Other high
missing national tolls, counted one week after the disaster, were Germany (730),
Austria (500), the United Kingdom (over 400) and Italy (330).88 The Thai police
took charge of a massive effort to identify all the victims using DNA samples, with
the cooperation of several international teams of forensic specialists, including
Chinese labs and an American company responsible for caring for those remains that
needed to be repatriated. Over 4,000 bodies were exhumed from their original burial
in order to ensure that all bodies would be identified using the standard set by
85 Prepared by Emma Chanlett-Avery, Analyst in Asian Affairs and Thomas Lum, Specialist
in Asian Affairs.
86 CNN News. January 13, 2005; U.S. Agency for International Development, Indian Ocean
— Earthquake and Tsunamis (Fact Sheet #36, February 22, 2005).
87 “Warning Rejected to Protect Tourism,” The Nation. December 28, 2004.
88 “Hopes Fade on Identifying Missing Foreigners,” Washington Post. January 2, 2005.
Interpol.89 The Thai Public Health Ministry expected that all bodies of foreign
nationals would be identified and repatriated by July 2005.90
Thailand was the logistics hub for much of the U.S. and international relief
effort. U.S. relief operations by air and sea for the entire region were directed out of
Thailand’s Utapao air base and Sattahip naval base. Thailand’s government
immediately granted full U.S. access to the bases following the disaster. Lt. Gen.
Robert R. Blackman, the overall American military commander in Okinawa, headed
the mission in Utapao, coordinating with his OFTA counterpart. Representatives
from Japan, Singapore, the U.N., the World Food Program, and the World Health
Organization also worked out of Utapao. A full DART team was stationed in
Initially, the U.S. military provided about 20 cargo planes, tanker aircraft, and
search and rescue planes, flown to Thailand from Japan and Guam. P-3 surveillance
aircraft conducted survey operations, including search-and-rescue efforts, and cargo
planes shuttled supplies to shelter the living and dry ice to preserve the dead from
Bangkok to affected areas.91 Bangkok was the first stop by Secretary of State Colin
Powell and Florida Governor Jeb Bush on their January 2005 tour of countries hit by
the disaster. In February 2005, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill
Clinton visited Thailand and other countries affected by the tsunami.
Beyond the immediate concern of dealing with the dead and injured, Thailand
faced a blow to its tourism industry. The industry brings in about $8 billion annually,
nearly 6% of Thailand’s GDP. Because the tsunami struck at the peak of tourist
season in Thailand, millions of visitors cancelled their plans, immediately costing
operators about $750 million, analysts estimate.92 Many observers are optimistic,
however, that the industry will rebound quickly, as only about 5-10% of Thailand’s
hotels were affected and rebuilding is expected to be swift. The Thai government
reassured investors that it intended to spend $768 million to repair infrastructure in
the area. The resort of Phuket is said to be recuperating quickly.93
Thailand is a long-time military ally with ongoing relevance to U.S. logistical
operations in Iraq, a key country in the war against terrorism in Southeast Asia, and
a significant trade and economic partner. A proposed U.S.-Thailand Free Trade
Agreement (FTA) is currently being negotiated. Despite differences on Burma policy
and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided
the basis for U.S.-Thai cooperation. In FY2003 and 2004, Thailand received over $20
million in economic and security assistance from the United States.
89 “MASS EXHUMATIONS: ID Operation Starts Again From Scratch,” The Nation.
January 14, 2005.
90 Thai News Service, March 14, 2005.
91 “US Begins Shuttle of Aid to Victims Along Thai Coast,” New York Times. January 1,
92 “Thailand Death Toll Could Reach 2,000,” CNN.com. December 28, 2004.
93 Stuart Wasserman, “Many Tsunami-Ravaged Beaches Making Speedy Recovery,” Miami
Herald, March 13, 2005.
Bur m a 94
In contrast to other governments affected by the Indian Ocean earthquake and
tidal waves, the Burmese government — as of December 29 — had given out little
information of the effects on Burma. An official from an international aid agency
told the Agence France Presse on December 27, on condition of anonymity, that
government officials were confirming 36 dead. The government subsequently issued
a figure of 53 dead. On December 28, the Agence France Presse cited at least 90
killed but cited no source. The source apparently was information over the internet
websites of anti-government groups. The international aid agency official speculated
that the actual death toll is “far greater,” given the trajectory of the tidal waves and
the closeness of Burma’s Indian Ocean coastline to the epicenter of the earthquake.
The London Sunday Telegraph (reprinted in the Washington Times, January 2, 2005)
quoted Burmese fishermen describing a major loss of life on lower Burma’s coastline
just north of the hard-hit Thai coast. However, U.N. officials stated on January 6 that
the death toll in Burma was relatively small. The Burmese government had not
issued an appeal for international aid, as of January 3, 2005. U.N. officials, Doctors
Without Borders, and the International Committee for the Red Cross have sought
government permission to visit the lower Burma coastline.
The issue of aid is complicated by the heavy economic sanctions imposed by the
United States and the European Union on Burma because of the politically
repressive policies of the military-dominated Burmese government. United Nations
officials in Rangoon stated on December 27 that the United Nations was prepared to
conduct relief operations. The government likely would accept humanitarian and
reconstruction aid from China, Burma’s main international supporter, and from
regional countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and India. The government also might
accept humanitarian aid from Japan, which has provided low levels of such aid
despite sanctions on Japanese developmental aid and investment. However, the
government likely would not allow any sizeable presence of foreign aid workers. It
is also highly unlikely that the government would ask for or accept aid from the
United States. A number of experts on Burma have stated that the views of Burmese
military officials toward the United States have become very negative because of the
absence of a positive U.S. response to the government’s release from house arrest of
opposition leader, Aung Sann Suu-kyi, in 1992 and the U.S. Congress’ enactment of
a total ban on Burmese imports to the United States in July 1993 in response to the
re-arrest of Aung Sann Suu-kyi.
The tsunami also hit the island-state of The Maldives. Initial reports put the
death toll at 32. This was increased to 55 on December 29, to 80 by January 3rd, and
to 86 by January 14th, 2005. Some 14,900 were displaced by the disaster. Many
outlying islands are only one meter above sea level. 10,000 persons were evacuated
off 13 low lying islands. About half of the island of Male was covered in two feet of
94 Prepared by Larry Niksch, Specialist in Asian Affairs.
95 Prepared by Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
water which closed the airport.96 All of the Maldives is below 8 feet in elevation.
Reports indicate that a 10 - 15 foot wave washed over some parts of the Maldives
leaving houses smashed, wells contaminated, and power and communications
infrastructure inoperable. The Maldives’ outlying coral reefs reportedly protected
many of the islands from the tsunami. Nevertheless the government estimates that
reconstruction will cost $1 billion or the rough equivalent of two years’ gross
domestic product.97 Tourism accounts for 30% of GDP in the Maldives.
Parliamentary elections planned for December 31 were postponed.98 It appears that
the tsunami has not adversely affected the coral reefs around the Maldives which are
a key draw for tourists.99
An American civil/military team was in the Maldives on the 3rd of January 2005
to make an assessment of the damage in preparation for U.S. assistance. An initial
estimate called for 1,000 military personnel to be sent to the Sri Lanka/Maldives area
to provide disaster assistance.100 On January 17th two military supply ships that had
been providing assistance to Sri Lanka were sent to assist the Maldives. Though the
Maldives managed to have a relatively low number of fatalities, its reconstruction
will be particularly difficult due to its geography.
The Republic of the Maldives is a micro state of some 1,200 islands,
approximately 200 of which are inhabited by a total population of roughly 310,000.
The island state has less than half the land area of Washington DC and is situated in
the Indian Ocean off the southwest tip of India. In 1887, the Maldives became a
British protectorate. The islands became independent in 1965. The capital, Male, has
approximately 70,000 residents. The overall population growth rate is about 3%. The
Maldives has a 97% literacy rate. There are four main ethnic groups; Sinhalese,
Dravidian, Arab and African and the main religion is Sunni Muslim.
The current president of the Maldives, Maumoon Gayoom, assumed office in
1978.101 He was elected to a sixth five-year term in 2003 under a system where the
voters vote for or against a single candidate selected by the Maldivian parliament
known as the Majlis. The President appoints 8 of the 50 members of the Majlis.102
The Republic of the Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association of
Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as well as the British Commonwealth.103
96 “Americans Told to Avoid Travel to Sri Lanka and Thailand,” Agence France Presse,
December 27, 2004.
97 James Hookway, “Tourism Thrives in the Maldives,” The Wall Street Journal, January
98 “Quake Prompts Enormous Aid Effort,” BBC News, December 28, 2004.
99 Coral Reefs, Islands Saved Tsunami hit Maldives,” Channel News Asia, March 13, 2005.
100 “Ghost Island of the Maldives,” The Australian, January 4, 2005.
101 “Maldives Leader Names Ministers,” BBC News, September 1, 2004.
102 “Country Profile: The Maldives,” BBC News, August 14, 2004.
103 “The Maldives: Introductory Survey,” in The Europa World Yearbook 2004, (London:
Europa Publications, Taylor and Francis Group, 2004). See also “Maldives: Quarterly
The American military base on Diego Garcia, located south of the Maldives,
was one of the few places in the Indian Ocean that did receive warning of the tsunami
waves. The base reportedly emerged from the event without major damage. Evidently
the configuration of the ocean floor near Diego Garcia played a role in lessening the
effect of the tsunami there. The base reportedly received a warning because the Navy
is on the contact list of the Pacific Warning Center.105
Malaysia includes the Malay peninsula in the west and to the east, and Sabah
and Sarawak on the north of the island of Borneo. Malaysia has a population of some
23 million. Malaysia was spared the devastation wrecked on Indonesia as it was
shielded from the tsunami by Sumatra. Despite this, some 68 were reported killed107
and 183 injured by the tsunami in Penang and in Kedah, Malaysia. A fuel loading
facility on the island of Langkawi in north western Malaysia was reportedly damaged108
in the tsunami. Malaysia opened its airspace and airports for international relief
efforts. Malaysia also raised 4.7 million rupiah for disaster relief by December 29.109
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi expressed his condolences and proposed greater
regional cooperation to deal with natural disasters.110
While Bangladesh has been devastated by past cyclones it was largely spared
destruction from the most recent tsunami. The Bangladesh port of Chittagong was
hit by large waves which caused flooding in 30 districts and left 2 dead as of
December 29.112 Bangladesh lost 300,000 in a cyclone in 1970 and a further 139,000
Forecast Analysis,” Global Insight, [http://www.globalinsight.com]
104 Prepared by Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
105 M. Kayal and M. Wald, “Tracking Tsunamis: Why was There No Warning?” The New
York Times, December 29, 2004.
106 Prepared by Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
107 “After the Tsunami the Rising Cost,” The Age, December 30, 2004 and “Malaysia
Economic and Corporate News Summary,” AFX, January 3, 2005.
108 “Asian Tsunami Causes Patchy Damage,” WMRC Daily, December29, 2004.
109 “Malaysians Do Care,” New Straits Times, December 29, 2004.
110 “PM Urges Cooperation in Providing Information,” New Straits Times, December 29,
111 Prepared by Bruce Vaughn, Analyst in Asian Affairs.
112 “After the Tsunami the Rising Cost,” The Age, December 30, 2004.
to another storm in 1991.113 Bangladesh is currently working with other South Asian
countries to set a new date for the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation
summit which was to be held on January 9-11 in Dhaka. Bangladesh has joined other
SAARC countries to provide assistance to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. It is also
hoped that the upcoming SAARC summit can provide further assistance for those
affected by the disaster.114
Tsunami waves reached Somalia about seven hours after hitting nations in South
Asia, about 4,000 miles away. Several Somali coastal towns and roads, notably in
northeastern and central coastal zones, were flooded and substantially destroyed by
the tsunamis. Thousands of boats and shelters were destroyed, severely damaged, and
numerous persons were reported missing. U.N. and news agencies report that
between 150 and 298 Somalis died as a result of the tsunamis.116 The northern Hafun
peninsula was among the worst-affected areas. The U.N.-affiliated World Food
Program (WFP) sent an assessment team to the coast of the northeastern Puntland
region, and OCHA led a preliminary air-based December 30 mission to assess coastal
zone tsunami damage. U.N. officials estimated that about 54,000 Somalis were
directly affected by the tsunamis and that about 18,000 households may require
emergency aid. The WFP has sent over 277 tons of food to the affected region, where
the World Health Organization deployed three emergency kits with a capacity to
serve 30,000 persons’ basic needs for three months. The Kenya-based Somali
transitional government has reportedly made unconfirmed, possibly exaggerated
claims that over 1,000 Somalis may have died as a result of the tsunamis, and
announced plans to send its own assessment team to Somalia.
OCHA on January 3, reported that international tsunami-related contributions
to Somalia included $50,000 from the United States, to be delivered via UNICEF,
and $100,000 from Saudi Arabia, contributed through the Society of the Red Cross.
Some existing U.N. drought-related and humanitarian aid was being re-prioritized to
meet emerging tsunami-related needs. Somali government officials issued informal
appeals for tsunami-related food and medical aid. According to a January 3 news
report, a total of 24 countries had pledged to send relief aid to Somalia, but such aid
had not arrived, according to a Somali presidential spokesman.117 U.S. officials
planned to respond to Somali government requests for tsunami relief aid by
reviewing U.N. assessments and, if aid is warranted, to channel any U.S. aid through
U.N. agencies. However, if needs prove severe and U.S. officials view the delivery
of U.S. bilateral emergency aid as necessary, a U.S. emergency declaration could be
113 “Major Natural Disasters,” US News and World Report, January 10, 2005.
114 “SAARC Urged to Organize Help for Tsunami-battered Countries,” Xinhua News
Agency, January 5, 2005.
115 The remainder of the individual country entries were prepared by Nicolas Cook, African
116 “Somali Tsunami Victim Toll Rises,” BBC News, January 5, 2005.
117 Rodrique Ngowi, “Somalia still waiting for food, shelter, medical help for victims of the
tsunamis,” Associated Press, Jan. 3, 2005.
made by the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has
suggested that a moratorium on debt owed by Somalia to creditor nations be
discussed at a January 2005 meeting of the Paris Club of official creditors. When
questioned about the proposal, U.S. officials, including President Bush, publicly did
not reject it, although they did not address it in detail.118
Somalia, a northeastern African country of about 8.3 million, has been wracked
by intermittent civil war and armed banditry since the ouster of President Siad Barre
in 1991. Since then, it has lacked an effective central government, and remains
politically fractious and dangerous due to the activities of diverse armed groups. It
is divided into three semi-autonomous regions: Somaliland, in the northwest and
Puntland in the north, both self-governed regions; and southern and central Somalia,
which is divided into localities dominated by local clans, warlords, and business
interests. Somalia is undergoing a process of peace making and state reconstruction.
In August 2004, key warlords and politicians formed a new parliament, which
appointed President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in October 2004. U.S., international
and Somali government access to southern Somalia is severely limited due to
insecurity. U.S. interests are represented by the U.S. mission in Nairobi, Kenya.
Conventional, non-tsunami-related U.S. assistance to Somalia focuses on
bolstering the capacity of civil society organizations and institutions related to local
governance and adherence to the rule of law; enhancing local economic opportunities
by backing a variety of projects focused on basic education, infrastructure
rehabilitation, and alternative energy use; and support for healthcare delivery. U.S.
Economic Support Fund monies, not shown in the aid table in the appendix, have
also helped finance lengthy negotiations aimed at forming a central Somali
government. The bulk of U.S. aid is delivered in the form of a various emergency,
supplemental, and developmental food-related and nutrition programs. H.R. 4818,
the foreign operations FY2005 appropriations bill, enacted as P.L. 108-447, did not
designate a specific appropriation for Somalia, which is not mentioned in the House
report (H.Rept. 108-599) or conference report (H.Rept. 108-792) associated with
H.R. 4818. The Senate report (S.Rept. 108-346) that accompanied S. 2812, a Senate
foreign operations FY2005 appropriations bill, later amended in relation to the
passage of H.R. 4818, stated that “[t]he Committee is concerned that the budget
request for assistance for Somalia under the DA account is only $986,000. The
Committee requests USAID and the State Department to take a more active role to
assist local efforts to promote peace and development in that country and
recommends that not less than $5,000,000 in DA be provided to support secular
education and strengthen civil society, particularly in Somaliland and Puntland.”
118 Reuters, “Schroeder urges debt relief for Indonesia, Somalia,” December 29, 2004;
Agence France Presse, “US ‘open’ to debt relief for tsunami victims,” December 29, 2004;
White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Discusses Support for Earthquake
and Tsunami Victims,” December 29, 2004.
The coast of Kenya, an east African country of about 32.02 million persons,
experienced tsunami waves that destroyed boats, damaged coastal properties, and
reportedly killed one swimmer, a tourist. More deaths may have been averted because
authorities closed coastal beaches and issued public precautions before and after the
tsunami waves hit the country. Kenya has not requested tsunami-related aid. The
international Committee of the Red Cross plans to ship at least 105 tons of relief
supplies to Sri Lanka from Nairobi, where the organization stocks such supplies.119
In Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, an east African country
of about 36.59 million persons, ten young swimmers were reported killed as a result
of tsunami waves. Additional persons may have died in a capsized boat. A tanker
reportedly ruptured an oil pipeline as a result of the tsunamis. Tanzanian officials
issued public warnings about possible further tsunami waves. Tanzania has not120
requested tsunami-related aid.
Seychelles, a group of Indian Ocean islands northeast of Madagascar off the
eastern African coast, sustained tsunami-related coastal floods. These destroyed two
bridges, some sewer and water systems, and caused extensive damage to a port,
power lines, schools, real properties, boats, and vehicles. Total damage in Seychelles
is worth an estimated $23.5 million. Three tsunami-related fatalities occurred.
Seychelles may formally request tsunami-related international aid, likely from the
United States, according to State Department officials.121
A tsunami wave flooded a coastal village in southeastern Madagascar, a large
Indian Ocean island off the coast of Mozambique, causing about 1,200 people to
become homeless. Madagascar, which regularly experiences extensive typhoon-
related natural disasters, has not requested tsunami-related aid.122
119 BBC, “Many missing...”; Voice of America, “Tidal Wave Hits Somalia, Kenya,” Dec.
27, 2004; Kenyan KBC radio, “Kenya sets up “crisis desk” to monitor tidal waves,” BBC
Monitoring Newsfile, Dec. 27 2004; Adrian Blomfield, “Evacuation from beaches cut deaths
by hundreds in Kenya East Africa,” The Daily Telegraph, Dec. 29 2004; Voice of America,
“Government Officials to Travel Around Somalia to Assess Damage,” Dec. 28, 2004.
120 BBC, “Many missing...”; Pflanz, “Waves kill...”; Tom Maliti, “U.N. Struggles to Get Aid
to Somali Town,” Associated Press, Dec. 29 2004.
121 BBC, “Many missing...”; Pflanz, “Waves kill...”; The Irish Examiner,” Seychelles Caught
in Tsunami’s Path,” Dec. 27, 2004; State Department communications.
122 Mohamed Ali Bile, “Waves kill 38 Somalis, UN fears toll may rise,” Reuters, Dec. 27
Damage to property, boats, and a weather station were reported in Mauritius,
where tsunami-related coastal evacuation orders were issued. Mauritius has not
requested tsunami-related aid.123
Reunion (French Territory)
The BBC reports that tsunamis damaged about 15 fishing vessels.124
South Africa reported unusually high tides, believed to be tsunami-related, in
which a man perished.125
Issues for Congress126
Tsunami Aid and Reconstruction Issues
Burdensharing. A day after the south Asia crisis, U.N. Under-Secretary-
General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland,
commenting on contributions by the wealthy nations to disasters in general in 2004,
stated that some developed nations were being “stingy” with aid. According to the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, although the United
States is the world’s largest provider of foreign assistance, it often is one of the
lowest contributors in per capita terms amongst the world’s most wealthy countries.
The United States has been reported as giving 0.14 percent of GNP in international
development assistance as compared to Norway’s 0.92 percent contribution.127
USAID Director Andrew Natsios has refuted Egeland’s statement, saying that the
aforementioned data was only for development assistance and did not include disaster
In the first days after the tsunami, the Bush Administration was criticized by
some observers for displaying a lack of urgency in its initial response. President
123 Agence France Presse, “Over 100 feared dead in Somalia from killer Asian tidal waves,”
Dec. 27, 2004; State Department personal communication.
124 BBC, “Many missing...”
125 Cape Argus, “Somalia asks for UN help,” Dec. 29, 2004.
126 Prepared by Nicolas Cook, Mark Manyin, Rhoda Margesson, Larry Niksch, Larry
Nowels, Bruce Vaughn, and Wayne Morrissey, Senior Research Assistant.
127 John Harris and Robin Wright, “Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President’s Absence,”
The Washington Post, December 29, 2004.
128 December 29, 2004 Interview on the PBS TV Program, The News Hour. For more
information on donor contribution comparisons, see CRS Report RS22032, Foreign Aid:
Understanding Data Used to Compare Donors, by Larry Nowels.
Bush came under criticism for waiting three days before publicly speaking about the
disaster during his vacation in Crawford, Texas.129 The subsequent increase of U.S.
economic and logistical assistance, along with the dispatch of Secretary of State
Powell and Florida Governor Bush to the region a week after the tsunami, may help
to change this perception.
In previous disasters, pledges made by governments have not always resulted
in actual contributions, the Bam earthquake of December 2003 is but one example
raised by the United Nations. Experts are concerned that while billions of dollars
have been pledged to help the victims of the tsunami disaster, there is no guarantee
that these pledges will be honored. It also cannot be assumed that the funds represent
new money as it may previously have been allocated elsewhere. Some are also
concerned about funding priorities and resources for other disaster areas and the very
real possibility of international donor fatigue. It will take time for a more complete
picture to reveal how the actual costs of the tsunami disaster will be shared among
Competing Aid and Budget Priorities.131 Even before the disaster struck,
Congress was expected to struggle to find the resources to sustain U.S. aid pledges
amid efforts to tackle rising budget deficits by, among other measures, slowing or
reducing discretionary spending. During the FY2005 debate, lawmakers reduced the
President’s foreign assistance budget request (a subset of the larger foreign policy
budget request) by $1.7 billion, or nearly 8%. This was the first time such cuts
occurred during the Bush Administration. Some Members of Congress publicly have
expressed concern that funding for tsunami relief and reconstruction, which depleted
most worldwide disaster contingency accounts, if not fully restored through
supplemental appropriations, may jeopardize resources for subsequent international
disasters or for other aid priorities from which tsunami emergency aid has been132
Transparency. Members of Congress have also raised concerns about
transparency of donor contributions, allocation of monies, and monitoring of projects
by the United Nations. The United Nations has said it will improve its financial
tracking and reporting system and Price Waterhouse Coopers is reportedly assisting
in that effort. Many contributions are also being made directly to international
organizations and non-governmental organizations, which could raise the same
questions about transparency requirements. Moreover, while earmarks and time
limits may ensure greater accountability, they can also add pressure for organizations
to spend contributed funds, sometimes leading to unnecessary spending, waste and
129 David Sanger, “It’s About Aid, and an Image,” New York Times, December 30, 2004.
130 James Darcy, “The Indian Ocean Tsunami Crisis: Humanitarian Dimensions,” Overseas
Development Institute, January 11, 2005.
131 Prepared by Larry Nowels, Foreign Affairs Specialist.
132 Elizabeth Becker, “No New Funds Needed For Relief, Bush Aides Say,” New York
Times, January 4, 2005.
duplicated efforts. Restrictions on funds also often do not allow flexibility to adapt
projects to better meet the changing needs on the ground.133
Debt Relief. While there is an on-going need for immediate relief assistance
for tsunami-affected countries, longer term aid will also be needed to assist these
nations, which face substantial costs associated with rebuilding infrastructure and
basic social services. Such extended aid may take the form of official debt relief or
repayment moratoriums, which may free resources for reconstruction. Several
creditor governments reportedly support an immediate moratorium on debt payments
by affected nations while other debt-related policy options are considered.134 While
U.S. officials have not firmly committed to any large-scale program of debt
cancellation or repayment term rescheduling,135 at least one significant debt-related
policy decision — the release of a communique allowing temporary credit
forbearance by debtors to the consensus-based Paris Club of creditor governments,136
of which the United States is a member — has been made to date. In addition, the
World Bank, IMF, and major bilateral creditor governments, including the United
States, have been considering an expansion of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country
(HIPC) initiative. Although none of the tsunami-affected countries are eligible for
HIPC debt relief, consideration of debt reduction proposals for these disaster-struck
nations could occur during subsequent talks on HIPC enhancement. Due to the size
of Indonesia’s debt burden, some have argued in the past that Jakarta should be
eligible for some form of HIPC debt-relief terms.
If the Paris Club decides to provide debt cancellation or the rescheduling of
credit repayment terms to any of the tsunami-affected countries, or if the multilateral
financial institutions recommend such relief, Congress may be called upon to
consider the nature, extent, and conditions of any credit relief that may be provided
by the United States.
Implications for Other U.S. Foreign Policy Interests
The War on Terrorism. The 9/11 Commission and others have pointed out
the U.S. interest in preventing regions of instability from becoming havens or
133 Edward Clay, “Lessons for Life,” The Guardian Review, January 12, 2005.
134 “Debt Freeze for Tsunami Nations Gets Boost at Summit,” Reuters News Service,
January 6, 2005; BBC News, “Brown pushes tsunami debt relief,” Jan. 4 2005; Reuters,
“Schroeder urges debt relief for Indonesia, Somalia,” December 29, 2004;.
135 Agence France Presse, “US ‘open’ to debt relief for tsunami victims,” December 29,
2004; White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “President Discusses Support for
Earthquake and Tsunami Victims,” December 29, 2004.
136 At their January 12, 2005 meeting, Paris Club members “shared the view” that “with
immediate effect and consistent with the national laws of the creditor countries, they will
not expect debt payments from affected countries that request such forbearance until the
World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund] have made a full assessment of
their reconstruction and financing needs.” Following such assessments, the Paris Club “will
consider what further steps are necessary.” See Paris Club, “Paris Club communique on
Tsunami affected countries,” January 12, 2005. For background, see CRS Report RS21482,
The Paris Club and International Debt Relief, by Martin A. Weiss.
recruiting grounds for Islamist terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and Jemaah
Islamiya (JI), the Southeast Asia terrorist organization that has close ties to Al Qaeda
and is thought to have killed hundreds in four separate attacks since September 11,
2001. While Sumatra, in Indonesia, has not been an active base of operation for Al
Qaeda or JI, the Indonesian military’s support of the entrance of the Mujahideen
Council of Indonesia (MMI) raises serious questions about the TNI’s policy toward
terrorist groups, given the MMI’s relationship with Jemaah Islamiya and Al Qaeda.
Moreover, any prolonged economic and political disruption, combined with potential
perceptions of Jakarta’s inability to deliver assistance, could open the door for a more
active terrorist presence or lead the anti-Indonesian Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to
establish ties to JI or Al Qaeda. Additionally, some Indonesian organizations and
charities with known ties to JI have dispatched humanitarian relief teams to Aceh.
In Southern Thailand, the areas most affected by the tsunami are generally considered
ethnically and regionally distinct from the predominantly Muslim provinces on the
western coast of peninsular Thailand, which have been the site of sectarian and anti-
government violence by Muslims over the past year.
Countering Negative Images of the United States. The large-scale
U.S. response to the tsunami is unlikely to reverse the decline in the U.S. image
abroad since the September 11 attacks, because this decline primarily is due to
American policies in the Middle East. However, the scale and scope of U.S.
assistance could provide a positive example of U.S. leadership and military
capabilities. The decline in the U.S. image abroad has been particularly acute in the
Muslim world, especially in Indonesia, where according to one series of polls, only
down from 61% in 2002.137 Additionally, the U.S. tsunami relief effort could help
counter the perception among some Southeast Asians that the United States not only
has placed too much emphasis on terrorism in its Southeast Asia policy, but also has
relied too heavily on “hard” (military) power to combat terrorism. The 9/11
Commission and others have recommended expanding U.S. public diplomacy
programs as a way to help win the global battle for “hearts and minds” especially in
the Islamic world from which the Muslim terrorists seek to draw recruits and support.
The restrictions on foreign relief activities announced by the Indonesian military and
government on January 11 and 12, 2005, potentially raise the reverse issue of
negative U.S. reactions to Indonesia. Commentary in the U.S. press and on radio
talks shows has been very negative toward Indonesia because of the restrictions.
Early Warning Systems: International Scientific, Technological and
Other Challenges.138 Nations affected by the December 26, 2004 tsunami,
assisted by others, are pursuing a multilateral effort through the U.N.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) to develop a tsunami detection
and early warning network for the Indian Ocean. In early March 2004, scientific
experts in affected countries met with international benefactors to coordinate
137 Dan Gardner, “Bush is Losing the War for Hearts and Ninds,” The Ottawa Citizen,
March 13, 2004 and Ellen Nakashima, “U.S. Policy Censured in Indonesia,” The
Washington Post, October 21, 2003.
138 Prepared by Wayne Morrissey, Information Research Specialist (Science and
Technology), Knowledge Services Group.
planning efforts and financial commitments. On March 11, 2005, the House
approved nearly $23 million for U.S. tsunami detection and warning in FY2005
emergency supplemental appropriations.139
Decisions about whether and how to proceed will likely be complicated for a
number of reasons. One reason is because of the number of different potential
international parties that would be involved with the need to coordinate data
collection and warning dissemination, and a second is the funding needed to establish
a tsunami warning system in that region. A third is that nations, including some in
the Indian Ocean, might charge for access to critical satellite data that may help in
warning potential victims. Some in Congress assert that the costs of acquiring those
data could be well worth it, in terms of lives saved; while others counter that access
to those proprietary data should be provided free of charge, especially when the
United States and other nations provide disaster relief and propose funding tsunami
detection and warning activities for the region.140
The greatest challenge is likely to be establishing local or regional emergency
management infrastructures for inhabitants in coastal regions bounding the Indian
Ocean to receive tsunami alerts in sufficient time to evacuate, and to be notified
when to return after the dangers have subsided.141 Many question who would be
responsible for building and maintaining such systems.
After the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, some Members of Congress were
concerned about the possible vulnerability of U.S. coastal areas to tsunamis, and the
adequacy of early warning for coastal areas of the western Atlantic Ocean. Congress
has introduced legislation,142 and the Bush Administration has proposed expanding
tsunami warning networks in Pacific coastal areas, and adding coverage for the
Atlantic seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.143
Additional tsunami detection and warning instrumentation for the United States
(and elsewhere) could run into the millions of dollars. To help offset those costs,
some experts suggest that existing global weather buoys, regional coastal and ocean
139 House Committee on Appropriations, “Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations
for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes,” Report to
accompany H.R. 1268 (H.Rept. 109-16, Ch. 5, p. 51, Mar. 11, 2005).
140 Introductory remarks on S. 34, by Sen. Lieberman, Congressional Record, Jan. 24, 2005,
141 U.S. House Committee on Science, Written Testimony, Brigadier General David L.
Johnson (U.S. Air Force, Ret.) Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and Director
of the National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on
Tsunamis, Jan. 26, 2005.
142 For more information, including legislation, see CRS Report RL32739 Tsunamis:
Monitoring, Detection, and Early Warning Systems, available at
[ h t t p : / / www.congr e ss.go v/ er p/ r l / pdf / RL32739.pdf ] .
143 Executive Office of the President, “U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S.
Announces Plan for and Improved Tsunami Detection and Warning System,”press release,
January 14, 2005 at [http://www.ostp.gov/html/Tsunamiplanrelease.pdf], visited March 18,
observation networks, and telecommunications capacity might be shared. Others
question the risks of a tsunami hitting the U.S. Atlantic coast.144 Assessing the
probability as low, they assert that risk factor should be important when
conceptualizing a cooperative early tsunami warning system. Still others have
proposed joint European Union, Canada, and United States coverage for the North
Aid to Indonesia and the Leahy Amendment. U.S. economic aid to
Indonesia for fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004 totaled $412 million. The Bush
Administration budgeted $158 million for FY2005. Much of this aid has gone to
programs supporting the development of democratic political institutions in
Indonesia with a recent emphasis on Indonesia’s education system. The
Administration reportedly will tap this existing bilateral aid program to help fund the
U.S. relief effort in Indonesia.146 Congress can be expected to receive new aid
requests from the Administration focusing on humanitarian and reconstruction aid,
especially directed at Aceh. Such requests undoubtedly would turn the attention of
the Administration and Congress to the political situation in Aceh, especially the
insurgency and the role of the Indonesian military (TNI).
Additionally, the disaster relief cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesian
militaries is likely to be mentioned during the annual congressional deliberations over
renewing restrictions on U.S.-Indonesian military-to-military relations, which the
Bush Administration has sought to restore since the September 11, 2001 attacks. For
more than a decade, Congress has restricted the provision of military assistance to
Indonesia due to concern about serious human rights violations by the TNI, most
notably the massacre of hundreds of people participating in a pro-independence rally
in Dili, East Timor, in November 1991.
In a press briefing on January 6, 2005, Secretary Powell said that the U.S. is
trying to provide the Indonesian government with enough spare parts to repair five
Indonesian C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that currently are not operational. This
would raise Indonesia’s number of operational C-130s to twelve. As discussed
below, current U.S. legislation places strict controls on the provision of military
equipment to Indonesia. When pressed on the issue of whether Jakarta in the future
might use repaired planes in its conflict with the GAM rebels in Aceh, Secretary
Powell said that “the humanitarian need ... trumps, right now, the reservations we
have.” He added his “hope” that the Indonesian government’s desire to receive
additional military parts in the future would serve as a disincentive for using aircraft147
against the GAM.
144 USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, “Off W Coast of Northern Sumatra, Can It Happen
in the United States?” [http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2004/usslav/canit.html],
visited Jan. 5, 2005.
145 CRS Report RL32739 (see footnote 5).
146 Jonathan Weisman, “Funds Ready for Tsunami Aid, but Hill Seeks to Do More,”
Washington Post, January 6, 2005.
147 State Department, “Secretary Colin L. Powell Remarks to the Traveling Press in
Although the language has varied from year to year, in general, the Leahy
amendment bans arms sales to Indonesia, U.S. military training with the TNI, and
TNI participation in the U.S. International Military Education Training (IMET)
program unless the President certifies that the Indonesian government and the TNI
are taking actions against the TNI’s reported human rights abuses, including
prosecution of abusers. The Leahy amendments for fiscal years 2002 and 2003
specifically mentioned Aceh in this context. About a week after the tsunami hit, the
head of the Indonesian military’s relief operations, Major General. Adam Damiri,
was replaced, apparently because of concerns that his indictment for war crimes by
a U.N.-backed tribunal in East Timor would complicate U.S.-Indonesian military
Indonesia,” Press Filing Center, Jakarta, Indonesia, January 6, 2005.
148 Alan Sipress and Noor Huda Ismail, “Relief Transcends U.S.-Indonesia Divide,”
Washington Post, January 4, 2005.
Appendix 1. U.S. Assistance to Selected Countries
Affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami
(Note: Totals may not add due to rounding)
Table 5. U.S. Assistance to Indonesia, 2001-2005
(millions of U.S. dollars)
AccountFY2001 FY2002 FY2002S.A.aFY2003 FY2004estimateFY2005estimate
CSH19.635.6 — 32.034.032.3
DA51.538.7 — 39.031.332.7
ESF49.950.0 — 59.649.765.0
IMET0.00.4 — 0.00.00.6
INCLE 0.0 0.0 4.0 0.0 0.0 10.0
Food Aid (not including freight costs)
P.L. 480 Title I15.019.0 — 0.0 0.0 n/a
P.L. 480 Title12.210.4 — 188.8.131.52
FFP5.110.9 — 0.05.6n/a
Section 416(b)0.011.2 — 7.917.7n/a
Sources: U.S. Department of State, USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture
a. Supplemental Appropriations (P.L. 107-206)
Table 6. U.S. Assistance to Sri Lanka, 2001-2005
(millions of U.S. dollars)
AccountFY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004estimateFY2005estimate
CSH 0 .3 0.3 0 .3 0.3 0 .3
DA 3.4 5 .2 6.2 4 .8 6.6
ESF 0 .0 3.0 4 .0 11.9 10.0
FMF 0 .0 0.0 0 .0 1.0 0 .5
IMET 0.3 0 .3 0.3 0 .5 0.5
NADR 0.0 0 .0 2.4 1 .9 1.9
P KO 0 .0 0.0 0 .0 1.0 1 .0
T o tals 4.0 8 .7 13.1 21.3 20.8
Food Aid (not including freight costs)
P.L. 480 Title I7.98.00.0 0.0 n/a
P.L. 480 Title II0.01.30.62.70.0
Section 416(b)6.00.00.0 0.9n/a
Sources: U.S. Department of State, USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Table 7. U.S. Assistance to India, FY2001-FY2005
(millions of U.S. dollars)
Program or AccountFY2001ActualFY2002ActualFY2003ActualFY2004EstimateFY2005Estimate
CSH 24.6 41.747.448.343.4
DA 28.8 29.2 34.5 25.7 25.4
ESF 5 .0 7.0 10.5 14.9 15.0
IMET 0.5 1 .0 1.0 1 .3 1.4
NADR-E XB S 0 .9 0 . 9 1 .0 0 . 7 0 .7
To tals $59.8 $79.8 $94.4 $90.9 $85.9
Food Aid (Not including freight costs)
P.L.480 Title II*78.393.744.820.244.8
Sources: U.S. Departments of State and Agriculture; U.S. Agency for International Development.
Table 8. U.S. Assistance to Thailand, FY2002-FY2005
(millions of U.S. dollars)
AccountFY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004estimateFY2005estimate
CSH 0.0 1.0 1.5 0.0 0.0
DA 0.0 0.8 1.3 0.0 0.0
ESF 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0
FMF 0.0 1.3 2.0 1.0 1.5
IM ET 1.9 1.7 1.8 2.5 2.5
INCLE 4.1 4.0 3.7 2.0 2.0
NADR 1.3 0.7 0.2 0.4 0.8
T otals 8.4 10.7 12.2 7.9 10.3
Sources: U.S. Department of State, USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Table 9. U.S. Assistance to Malaysia, 2001-2005
(millions of U.S. dollars)
AccountFY2001 FY2002 FY2003 FY2004estimateFY2005estimate
IM ET 0.8 0.8 0.8 1.2 1.1
NADR 0.1 0.2 1.3 0.1 1.0
T otals 0.9 1.0 2.1 1.3 2.1
Sources: U.S. Department of State, USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Table 10. U.S. Assistance to Somalia
(millions of U.S. dollars)
AccountFY2003 ActualFY2004 Est.FY2005 Req.*
P.L._480_T itle_II 136.4 89.0 -
Source: “Somalia,” Request by Region: Africa, FY2005 Congressional Budget Justification for
Foreign Operations, Feb. 10, 2004.
*Note: No Somalia-specific appropriations were enacted for FY2005. Data on levels of any U.S.
assistance for Somalia will become available after the Administration has notified the appropriate
Congressional committees of its functional account allocations, in accordance with the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. Overall assistance to sub-Saharan Africa rose slightly over
List of Aid-Related Abbreviations
CSH: Child Survival and Health Programs
DA: Development Assistance Programs
ESF: Economic Support Fund Programs
IMET: International Military Education and Training Programs
NADR-EXBS: Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Export
Control and Related Border Security Assistance Programs
P.L.480 Title II: Emergency and Private Assistance food aid (grants)
Section 416(b): The Agricultural Act of 1949, as amended (surplus agricultural
Appendix 2. Child Protection Issues in Tsunami-
(As of January 9, 2005)
!One confirmed case of four-year-old boy taken out of Banda Aceh
by a couple claiming to be his parents. (We cannot confirm the child
!There may be other possible cases of child-trafficking: media reports
sighting by an “NGO worker” of about 100 infants carried in a speed
boat in the middle of the night.
!The government has imposed a moratorium on adoptions of children
!Children from Aceh under 16 cannot leave the country at this time.
!Surveillance will be increased at airports and seaports in North
Sumatra and Aceh.
!The government has placed many Acehnese children in orphanages
in Medan and other towns across Sumatra Island.
!Children being placed with Acehnese families under a temporary
foster care scheme.
!Twenty child-friendly centers for unaccompanied children will soon
be opened in major displacement camps in Aceh.
!Registration of children has begun.
!When adoptions become possible, Achenese residents will be given
!The government reports no cases of trafficking or abduction.
!The government has ruled out adoptions for unaccompanied children
at this time.
!Specific measures being taken to prevent trafficking include
registration of children, provision of temporary accommodation for
unaccompanied children in government reception homes and family
!Child rights volunteers deployed in Ranong and Phuket to conduct
community surveillance. UNICEF will work with provincial and
district authorities to mobilize NGO partners, communities, and the
media to be more vigilant on child protection issues.
!No reports of trafficking or abuse of children (in camps) received by
!UNICEF and partners providing additional support to grandparent-
headed families and unaccompanied children.
!Reports of Sri Lankan citizens wanting to adopt children. Process for
adoption takes up to five years. UNICEF is advocating for foster
system. (Foster care is not a tradition in Sri Lanka.)
!UNICEF and partners have mobilized teams to identify and register
all unaccompanied and separated children.
!Police and authorities are not yet present in camps, raising concerns
that children will be more vulnerable to sexual and other abuse.
!UNICEF and the NCPA are conducting an emergency assessment to
identify children in displaced camps who are without parents or
!UNICEF will support authorities in the investigation of all
incidences of abuse of children.
!Data collection on unaccompanied and separated children is ongoing
in all districts.
!No reports of trafficking or abuse of children received by UNICEF.
!UNICEF is seeking the views of the government of India on the
adoption policy announced by the government of Tamil Nadu.
!UNICEF is providing psychosocial support to traumatized children
in 13 districts.
!Unaccompanied children have been identified in camps in two
districts in Tamil Nadu.
!Special orphanages for unaccompanied children have been opened
in Tamil Nadu.
!The text message offering 300 Acehnese “orphans” for adoption is
!UNICEF working with the government and UNICEF Indonesia as
necessary to strengthen the monitoring capacity of immigration
controls to prevent trafficking into Malaysia.
Source: Reported by UNICEF on January 12, 2005.
UNICEF’S Child Protection Response
to the Indian Ocean Emergency
(As of February 11, 2005)
The emergency following the tsunami differs from many others as the numbers
of unaccompanied and separated children are relatively low. A large proportion of
the dead was children. In all affected countries, extended family and community
protection mechanisms function well and almost all separated children are being
cared for by relatives and communities. This has a positive effect on both immediate
care and protection and on longer term psychosocial well-being. Registration of
children and family tracing were of critical importance in the first weeks following
the disaster. UNICEF, in collaboration with UN agencies, NGOs and governments,
helped in setting up of registration and tracing facilities in order to identify orphans
and reunite families.
The issue affecting most surviving children, in the long run, is distress at what
they have gone through. As a result, there is a high need for psychosocial support not
only to children, but also to their families, as well as those working with children
such as teachers and social workers. There have been scattered reports of trafficking
of children; most could not be confirmed. Particularly in Sri Lanka, cases of military
recruitment of children have been increasing. Some have occurred from tsunami
camp facilities, but most from local communities. The particular vulnerability of the
displaced populations, the deployment of thousands of aid workers, military
personnel, and logistics staff, and the uncontrolled access to affected areas by non-
locals and foreigners lead to a higher risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking of
At the global level, UNICEF coordinates a core group of UN agencies, other
international bodies, and NGOs, including World Vision, ICRC, UNHCR, IRC, and
Save the Children. Common principles, tools, questionnaires, and registration forms
were jointly developed. UNICEF also coordinated the drafting of inter-agency
guidelines on psychosocial support and guiding principles on separated children. In
addition, UNICEF provided all its offices with reference material on trafficking, child
marriage, and HIV/AIDS in emergencies, and also training modules, international
standards, and other material including on the Secretary General’s bulletin on sexual
exploitation and abuse.
At the national level, UNICEF took the lead on child protection issues in many
of the affected countries. Child protection officers work in all affected countries in
close collaboration with governments and provide support to coordination of
registration efforts (including use of standardized forms), foster care arrangements
(support to foster families, with use of institutionalized care only as a last resort), and
training of police and military on child protection issues.
In Indonesia, UNICEF helped set up 20 registration centers for children and a
joint database was put in place. UNICEF trained volunteers on identification of
separated children and family reunification; police officers and military were trained
on child protection issues, including women police officers who act as focal points
for women and children within the local government. A coordination group on
trafficking was established and UNICEF acts as the focal point in Aceh on the Code
of Conduct on sexual exploitation.
In Sri Lanka, the registration in camps was completed, a database for
registration was set up, and common registration forms are in use. Psychosocial
workers were trained, recreation kits for children distributed, and psychosocial
support is provided in affected areas. UNICEF is investigating reports about the
recruitment of children and allegations of sexual abuse and violence against children.
In India, UNICEF is printing a booklet on trafficking, and provides psychosocial
support in 13 districts. In Thailand and the Maldives, UNICEF provides information
on psychosocial support.
!Continued risks of child exploitation due to loss of livelihoods.
!Support to single parent households.
!Continued monitoring of foster care placement: reliable follow-up
to ensure that children in foster care arrangements are properly cared
for; institutionalized care used only as a last resort.
!Awareness raising and programs to address domestic violence.
!Awareness raising about child marriage which is very common in
some parts of the regions.
!Training of U.N. staff on Code of Conduct on sexual abuse and
Source: Reported by UNICEF on February 11, 2005.
Figure 2. Countries Affected by the Tsunami
Figure 3. Regional Assistance and Food Aid Requirements