10 Feb Lessons learnt from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
Asitha, G. P.
Lessons learnt from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
Government Office for Science UK
Mass migration, both short term and long term, took place in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami disaster on Boxing Day 2004, subsequent to the immense human and infrastructural destruction that was caused. The earthquake, recorded at a magnitude of 9.1 on the Richter scale, led to a death toll of over 230,000 and mass displacement of over 1.69 million people across 15 countries in two continents. As of July 2005, official figures put the number of dead, missing and displaced in the Indian Ocean region at more than 175,000, nearly 50,000 and over 1.7 million, respectively (Rofi et al., 2006). Over half a decade after the tragedy, affected countries have adopted and self-evolved policies and implementation mechanisms, taking into consideration the local political, environmental and socioeconomic contexts, to address issues pertaining to returnees to the disaster sites after the tsunami and those who had permanently migrated from the original location because of the tsunami. There have been commendable post-disaster improvements in some areas whereas in others there was public protest against such policies. There were also times when a good policy for one area was detrimental to another. A scientific analysis of the migration-related systems and policies that were in place prior to the disaster in each country and the systems that evolved subsequently would be beneficial in designing and documenting models of good practice and areas that failed, to be used appropriately in the future. Considering the fact that the most substantial damage was caused in Aceh (Indonesia), Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, this paper attempts to assess the situation in these countries based on the available and accessible literature and the relevant post-tsunami experiences.