21 January 2005
by World Volunteer Web
With more than 200,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced and homeless due to the recent devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in Asia, the relief and rehabilitation operations required are the biggest ever undertaken in history.
One of the important resources needed in this massive humanitarian assistance effort is volunteers. Even before the governments could deliver aid to the distant and devastated regions, overcoming the obstacles of severely damaged infrastructure, volunteers from both local communities and outside joined hands to help the survivors as much as possible.
Volunteers have been helping the tsunami victims in many different ways: from distributing food, clothes, drinking water and medicines to cleaning up the debris and searching for the missing. They have been burying or cremating the dead, treating the injured and carrying them to relief camps or medical centres and providing emotional support.
In Thailand, local youth are volunteering their European language skills to help foreigners who are desperately looking for the missing families and friends. Groups of people from different parts of the world have got together online, volunteering their time and technology skills, to set up websites and weblogs that publish information about relief needs and missing persons.
Other volunteers are helping local governments in collection and dissemination of information about damage and relief needs, and coordination of relief distribution.
In our special coverage of the disaster in Asia, we bring you all the news about the role volunteers are playing in the world's biggest relief and rehabilitation effort to date. You can also find here how you can help the tsunami victims through donations and voluntary work.