about the 26 December Indian Ocean tsunami defies imagination
— the scale of the devastation, the loss of life, the
global response and the life-saving gestures of local people.
Some 280,000 people died or are missing and millions more
left homeless. However, the statistics fail to convey the
scope of individual losses.
In the Movement, we mourned the loss of colleagues. In one
village in northern Sumatra, more than 20 staff died, including
that branch’s secretary general. But despite their personal
tragedies, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in the affected
regions came together to help those most in need. In Indonesia,
for example, when the army and National Society staff from
the capital Jakarta arrived in the worst affected areas, they
expected to find chaos. Instead, in some areas, they discovered
Red Cross volunteer teams already in place, providing relief
and comfort. Some volunteers had made their way up the coast
by boat; others were the remnants of local teams suddenly
made orphans, widows or substitute parents to siblings.
Globally, the Red Cross and Red Crescent network mobilized
over 10,000 volunteers and 76 relief and medical teams. Over
30 National Societies sent assistance to sister societies
in the affected countries, with the ICRC and the International
Federation coordinating international response efforts.
Life goes on and today people are getting on with the long,
hard work of rebuilding their lives. There is hope that communities
will be able to recover quickly as the massive amount of money
donated to tsunami operations means there is no shortage of
funding for humanitarian and development efforts. The Red
Cross and Red Crescent raised some US$ 1.2 billion, according
to the International Federation. The Movement will be making
every effort to spend funds in a responsible and transparent
Despite the revenues and the international goodwill, one
still does not have to look very hard to see the enduring
emotional scars and physical hardships facing the millions
of people affected by this disaster.
As editors of a magazine dedicated to humanitarian issues,
we cannot end this editorial without asking our readers to
remind their political leaders and policy makers that suffering
is without asking our readers to remind their political leaders
and policy makers that suffering is not limited to tsunami
victims. Vulnerable people worldwide need our support.