Affected Countries

Note: all figures on the above map are in million Swiss Francs. Label figure is total expenditure.

The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 was an extraordinary event of such magnitude and destructive power, whose impact on humanity mean it will always be remembered as one of the world’s worst disasters.

Over 226,000 people were killed and the lives of millions of people were irrevocably changed. It was so far-reaching that damage was reported in 14 countries, from Indonesia across the Indian Ocean to the eastern seaboard of Africa. In addition to the citizens of the countries directly affected, 40 countries from outside the affected region also lost citizens to the force of the tsunami, including many tourists.


The widespread impact and human tragedy was so strikingly communicated to the world through the media that it generated an enormous response from millions of people. Combined with the scale and intensity of the disaster, the situation was of unprecedented proportions, threatening to overwhelm even the well-established capacity of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Reaching those affected in the two worst-affected countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as well as in Somalia was made all the more difficult because of the presence of conflict in these countries.

Respecting the context in the different countries, more than 30 National Societies sent emergency teams to help and over 20 of them stayed on to establish bilateral recovery assistance programmes. From the start, the challenge of coordinating the response of the Red Cross Red Crescent was extremely complex and unprecedented. While the humanitarian imperatives were at the forefront, enormous pressures built up with intense media scrutiny and public pressure to produce rapid results, coupled with the desire for accountability through donor profiling.

The Red Cross Red Crescent had its three biggest operations in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Maldives: Rebirth of a community

Maldives: Rebirth of a community

Dhuvaafaru is the single biggest construction project ever undertaken by the Red Cross Red ...

Indonesia: Aceh rises again

Indonesia: Aceh rises again

For the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) the disaster was a call to action. There was no time to spare, there was no effort to great to do what the organization had prepared for and trained for.