Document / Publication
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004, killed more than 280,000 people in South and Southeast Asia, including more than 10,000 in India. The roiling sea devastated large sections of coastal areas in India’s southeastern states and virtually destroyed the coastal economy. Some 200,000 homes were destroyed or damaged on India’s mainland. Countless lives were uprooted and shattered. Overall losses and damages are estimated at more than a billion US dollars. At least 647,556 persons were displaced and moved into emergency shelters. Human Rights Watch received several reports of problems with distribution of food and provision of shelter during the immediate relief effort. Such shortcomings would not necessarily be noteworthy given the size of the disaster and relief effort, but in this case, as described below, they highlight more systemic and potentially enduring failures to take into account the needs of different vulnerable communities. Particularly worrisome were consistent reports of discrimination based on caste status in the distribution of aid.