Banyan Tree Teams With U.N.

Devin Galaudet In a recent move to expedite needed aid to tsunami victims in the Maldives, Banyan Tree Group and United Nations Development (UNDP) have formed a partnership. The joint effort plans reconstruction of homes and other needed structures in Naalaafushi, an island devastated by the recent tsunam

By: Devin Galaudet

In a recent move to expedite needed aid to tsunami victims in the Maldives, Banyan Tree Group and United Nations Development (UNDP) have formed a partnership. The joint effort plans reconstruction of homes and other needed structures in Naalaafushi, an island devastated by the recent tsunami, in the South Male Atoll in Meemu.

Led by Banyan Tree Group chairman Ho Kwon Ping and officers from UNDP and the Maldivian government, reconstruction and repair began based on an assessment by the new partnership.

Tsunami waves decimated most buildings on Naalaafushi on Dec. 26, leaving all 291 residents homeless on the island. However, facilities have been built as temporary shelter by the UNDP.

“Through this unique partnership between UNDP, the Government of Maldives and Banyan Tree Group, our aim is to make the most effective use of skills and resources already available here. These joint efforts will enable a more swift and effective large-scale relief and recovery operations,” said Moez Doraid UNDP’s resident representative in the Maldives.

“The reconstruction efforts are in alignment with the objectives of the Asian Tsunami Recovery Fund which we set up to assist in recovery and rehabilitation of people severely affected,” said Ping. “We have lived and worked among these communities for many years. I see our role in recovery efforts as something much larger than simply handing out a check.”

With monsoon season beginning in June, Banyan Tree has sent resort construction staff including plumbers and carpenters to Naalaafushi to assist in the rebuilding project with a goal to sheltering all victims. Further reports by Banyan Tree and UNDP assessed similar damage in the South Male Atoll with the same commitment to reconstruction efforts on the Maldive islands of Muli and Kolhufushi.

This joint effort is in light of Banyan Tree Group’s Jan. 5 confirmation to promote aid relief in the hardest hit areas in Indonesia, Phuket, Sri Lanka and Maldives by the creation of the Asian Tsunami Recovery Fund. The fund offers Banyan Tree guests, staff and business partners opportunity to help with charitable contributions for mid- to long-term financial backing for those affected by the tsunami disaster.

To support the fund, Banyan Tree employees made voluntary contributions of 5 percent of their January salaries and a redirection of money collected from the Banyan-sponsored Green Imperative Fund (GIF). The GIF is an on-going environmental conservation program promoting community advancement. Banyan Tree has also pledged matching donations from GIF and employees dollar for dollar. Other efforts include seeking contributions from business, trade and media partners and active appeal to the public and resort guests.

UNDP plans reconstruction efforts for a total of 400 homes and over 2,000 housing units throughout the Maldives in the next six months.

www.banyantree.com

www.undp.org

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