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Indian Ocean Tsunami Three Year Anniversary: A New Phase Begins

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007   

Californians will remember the devastating tsunamis in the Indian Ocean three years ago today that killed more than 220,000 people in eleven countries. Three years later, reconstruction has ended and the region is transitioning into a new phase, with the goal of economic stability.

Caitlin Carlson with the international humanitarian organization Mercy Corps says with fewer construction jobs in recent months, the unemployment rate in the area is rising. She says it's important to continue to help communities there prepare for the future.

"This isn't a one, two, three-year process. It's a decade-long or more process, and we want to make sure we can give them the tools they need to continue after we leave."

The series of tsunamis wiped out entire communities in Indonesia. As a comparison, the Sumatra quake shook the ground 100 times harder than California's 1989 Loma Prieta quake. Since then, Carlson says Mercy Corps' programs have helped thousands of farms, fisheries and merchants.

"It's going to be very, very important that small business owners are supported and that their businesses thrive in the area. So far, we've worked to create or reopen 400 small businesses in Aceh province alone."

Carlson estimates Mercy Corps has invested more than $28 million in Aceh province to help nearly a quarter-million people recover. More information about the organization's efforts in the region is available online, at www.mercycorps.org.



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