President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that 592 loans taken related to the 2004 tsunami have been forgiven.
The president made the statement while speaking at a special ceremony held to mark in National Unity Day at Vilufushi island of Thaa atoll, on Thursday morning. President Solih also officiated the unveiling of a tsunami monument upon arriving on the island.
Speaking at the ceremony, the president stated that over the past 15 years previous governments had undertaken years of work to repair the damage caused by the tsunami to over 190 islands. He added that the biggest challenge to their work was relocating the displaced residents of five islands rendered uninhabitable.
Moreover, he stated that complaints from such residents had gone unattended even by the time he was inaugurated into office. He went onto highlight that these complaints included the inability to pay off debts taken to repair the damage incurred during the disaster.
A total of 592 loans have been forgiven to ease the debts of those afflicted by the tsunami. This includes loans issued for the reconstruction of homes in Kolhufushi island. Complaints by the people of Dhuvaafaru island of Raa atoll and this island (Vilufushi) have not been addressed. Currently, work is ongoing to register the houses in Dhuvaafaru to their respective owners in addition to that of this island as well
~ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
Furthermore, the president stated that the tsunami destroyed many livelihoods and households built through hard work and sacrifice. Many lost their loved ones, close friends, and financially destroyed many families on that day, said Solih. He added that Maldivians showed exceptional acts of kindness and unity during such a destructive disaster that rendered islands uninhabitable. He stated that those acts of unity were the reason why the country was able to overcome the tragedy.
He went on to note that damage to Vilufushi island was repaired based on a "safe island concept".
The president also highlighted the threats of climate change to the Maldives especially due to the unique geography of the country. As such, he appealed for citizens to stay alert and ready in order to overcome any natural disaster.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that took place on December 26th took the lives of 82 Maldivians with 26 people reported missing.