Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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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 160,000 people are dead and millions of others are affected, including those injured, missing, or displaced, making this the deadliest tsunami on record. News reports suggest that the death toll may be well above 200,000. Sections of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand have suffered the worst devastation. Eighteen Americans are confirmed dead, with another sixteen presumed dead, and 153 remain unaccounted for. In response, the United Nations, the United States, and other donor nations have organized what some have called the worlds largest relief and recovery operation to date. President Bush pledged 350 million in aid and mobilized the U.S. military to provide logistical and other assistance. Funding the Indian Ocean tsunami relief and reconstruction effort is likely to be a challenge faced by the 109th Congress. 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. Congress also may wish to consider debt relief as a means of helping those nations hit by the tsunami to recover economically. Additionally, there have been calls to institute a tsunami detection and warning system in the Atlantic andor Indian Oceans, both of which would require allocations of funds.
- Government and Political Science