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30,000 Thai Fisherman lose livelihoods


30,000 Thai Fisherman lose livelihoods, says UN Assessment

7 January, Phuket,Thailand -- Fishing villages and farms wiped out by the tsunami along the Pang Na coast of Thailand have left 30,000 families without any means of earning a living, according to an assessment conducted this week by the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The aim of the three-day mission was to determine the impact of the disaster on non-tourist areas.

The destruction of more than 3,300 fishing trawlers has left tens of thousands of fishing families without work, affecting roughly 100,000 people. “Some of these fishing boats were also used to shuttle tourists. It’s a double whammy for communities dependent on these boats for their livelihoods: No boats, no fishing. No boats, no tourism,” says Hakan Bjorkman, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Thailand.

More than 500 fishing villages along the coast have been devastated by the tsunami, according to the assessment. Several thousand fishing cages were also destroyed, wiping out the groupa and sea bass catches that are especially lucrative for the local fisherman supplying Thai restaurants. In addition, the waters flooded more than 225 hectares of productive agricultural land and killed 54,000 livestock.

“We need to move from emergency relief to long-term rebuilding as soon as possible,” says Hakan Bjorkman. “Emergency food and medicines are coming in and keeping people alive now, but we must get people back on their feet for the long haul. Boats need to be repaired. Low-interest credit schemes need to be put in place.”

To date, official casualty estimates are 5,246 dead, 10,306 injured and 4,499 people missing. However, the death toll is expected to continue to rise.

Initial estimates show that more than 7,500 houses were damaged or destroyed, with widespread destruction of coastal infrastructure, including schools, electricity, communications and transport systems.

UN agencies in Thailand are strengthening their capacities to supplement Thai Government efforts in disaster response and rehabilitation operations over the coming six months. Priority areas for UN support include child protection, psycho social support, education, shelter, livelihood recovery, fisheries and agriculture rehabilitation, environmental rehabilitation and coordination.

This week’s mission to evaluate the impact of the tsunami on non-tourist sectors was a follow-up to a preliminary assessment of relief requirements made by the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team. UNDAC has established a base of operation in Phuket, and since last week has a liaison in Bangkok.


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