26 December 2014, Male’; Ten years have passed since the devastating tsunami hit our shores: ten years since the word was introduced to the Maldivian population: ten years since the blue waters that are so familiar, so comforting, became the eternal graves and destruction of so many. When the tsunami hit the shores of the Maldives, the waves washed out entire communities, destroyed homes, livestock and livelihoods. Economic gains that this country had made over many a year vanished in a few minutes. Some islands became entirely uninhabitable, severing those ties with their history and their way of life.

Today, as we remember those that perished, and those that suffered, we raise our hands in salute to those heroes that worked tirelessly since that day to help victims pick up the pieces of their lives. What we saw that day was the true spirit of oneness, our common history, and the bonds that bind us together like no other. On that day we saw our international partners coming out to help the Maldives, when we needed such help the most. And we also witnessed an extraordinary successful recovery and rehabilitation programme carried out by the Government that was later hailed internationally as a case of international best practice. It is in that spirit that we celebrate this day as the National Day of Unity.

It is in this spirit that we must continue to meet the challenges we face. Floods and rising sea levels threaten the loss of our livelihoods, our homes, our cultures and our very existence. The words of scientists that have for years warned of frequent natural disasters due to climate change, are undoubtedly proving to be true.

We must prepare ourselves for any disaster that might strike us. We must take action at home to build our resilience and become stronger. At the same time, we will continue to raise our voice around the world, urging other countries to do their part.

The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. We, as individuals, and as a nation, need to build our individual and collective resilience to face the challenges, and become stronger. The time to act is now. It is time we start listening and taking charge.

ENDS