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AFT Resolutions

SUPPORT FOR TSUNAMI VICTIMS

WHEREAS, on Dec. 26, 2004, a massive earthquake, measured at 9.0 on the Richter scale and centered off the coast of Indonesia, triggered a devastating tsunami that rapidly moved throughout the Indian Ocean and beyond; and

WHEREAS, a large number of countries were directly affected by this disaster.  Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand were the hardest hit with casualties in the tens of thousands. The tsunami, however, also resulted in death and destruction in Bangladesh, Burma, Malaysia, the Maldives, the Seychelles, and as far away as Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania; and

WHEREAS, more than 150,000 people have lost their lives, tens of thousands of people are injured or missing, and the final toll may climb higher still; and

WHEREAS, the victims also include thousands of visitors who were traveling in the region, including large numbers from Australia, Europe, and North and South America; and

WHEREAS, UNICEF estimates that more than one-third of the victims of the tsunami were children.  Tens of thousands have been killed or injured by this disaster, and as many or more children have been orphaned or separated from their families and now live vulnerable to exploitation and traffickers; and

WHEREAS, throughout the region, the education infrastructure has been severely crippled, measured not only by the tragic loss of lives among teachers and students but also by the physical destruction of schools, classrooms, books, equipment and educational materials. For example, Indonesian officials report that 1,000 teachers are missing and 50 percent of schools in Aceh have been destroyed; and

WHEREAS, medical systems and healthcare workers are facing overwhelming challenges brought on by the huge numbers of sick and injured, and now by threats of deadly diseases such as cholera, dysentery, malaria and typhoid; and

WHEREAS, public sector workers now face the enormous task of rebuilding devastated cities, towns and communities that have been left without food, shelter, clean water, power, and transportation; and

WHEREAS, throughout its history, the American Federation of Teachers has had a proud commitment to international affairs, and its members have often shown compassion and solidarity with their brothers and sisters abroad in the wake of human tragedy:

RESOLVED, that the AFT convey its heartfelt sympathy for the victims and their loved ones of the violent earthquake and destructive tsunami that struck cities, towns and communities throughout Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Africa on Dec. 26, 2004; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT express its gratitude and respect for the brave and dedicated work of all aid workers--volunteer and professional, governmental and nongovernmental--who are saving lives and providing relief assistance in the devastated areas of the region; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT reaffirm its commitment to work closely with its partners in Education International, Public Services International and the AFL-CIO to provide both immediate and long-term recovery support for our brother and sister teachers and other education professionals, public sector employees and healthcare workers in the region; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT pledge to encourage AFT leadership, members and local affiliates to continue their support for compassionate relief efforts by contributing to the AFT Educational Foundation’s tsunami relief fund, where contributions are solely devoted  to direct humanitarian assistance; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT commend AFT members and affiliates who have already given donations or volunteered their time through their local charities, businesses, community organizations and religious groups to aid and comfort those in need; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge Congress and the federal government to fully uphold their stated commitments and to fully engage the United States in providing financial aid, reconstruction materiel and other long-term assistance to the people and communities of the regions affected by these terrible events; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT recognize, beyond the humanitarian crisis, that the future recovery and social and economic prosperity of Asia and Africa are of vital concern to all who value international stability, progress and democracy.

[Executive Council, January 2005]


(2005)