26.12.2004 - Press release
Tidal wave disaster in Asia: Switzerland provides emergency aid
Switzerland is providing emergency aid for the victims of the tidal wave catastrophe in Asia. Local needs are currently being assessed in Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, the countries most seriously affected. Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey has confirmed that the humanitarian aid unit of the SDC sent three experts to Sri Lanka on Sunday evening to clarify the situation. Clarifications regarding Swiss victims are well under way.According to current estimates, many thousands died in the tidal wave. Sri Lanka has asked the international community for help.
The Swiss Confederation has provided one million Swiss francs for emergency measures. A decision on additional aid will be taken once the situation in the crisis-ridden region has been evaluated. Clarifications are currently being conducted in the countries affected. Switzerland has offered aid to all countries concerned.
On Sunday evening, a team of three experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit flew from Zurich-Kloten to Sri Lanka to clarify the situation. A delegation from UNDAC/OCHA, including a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, is also en route to Sri Lanka.
The extent of the damage and possible emergency aid to be provided by Switzerland are being evaluated in Thailand and India too. In Thailand, the local coordinator of the SDC humanitarian aid unit is in the crisis area. In India, a representative of the SDC coordination bureau will travel to Delhi on Monday and, with the consent of the Indian authorities, will be assisted by two experts from Switzerland.
The DFA’s clarifications regarding possible Swiss victims of this catastrophe are well under way. There is still no news of any Swiss victims. Family members of persons who may be involved can call +41 31 325 33 33 for information. (The lines may be very busy. Callers should stay on the line even if the phone rings for a long time; all calls will be answered.)
All embassies and consulates of countries affected are cooperating. The Bangkok Embassy alone has a permanent staff of eight to take calls and has four persons in the Phuket region. Conditions became more difficult as night fell.
Anyone who booked a trip to the affected region should immediately contact their travel agent or tour operator or call the airline.
For further information on Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit emergency aid:
Thomas Jenatsch, media spokesperson for the SDC, +41 (0)79 300 48 63