The article aims to analyse two policy narratives that were politicised in the context of post-tsunami response in Eastern Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia. These areas had been affected by war for several decades before the tsunami hit. The first narrative of public safety saw government imposition of post-tsunami buffer zones, ostensibly as measures to protect those affected, but they also incited tensions in both locations. The second relates to post-tsunami aid distribution. Developing policies and implementing bodies for tsunami aid has proven highly contentious, but uniquely so in each location. Whereas the tsunami in Sri Lanka has been followed by renewed fighting and the end of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement, the province of Aceh enjoys the fruits of the 2005 peace agreement that has created greater autonomy from central government and greater access to resources than ever before. Each conflict has historically and geopolitically distinct antecedents, resulting in very different post-disaster policy contexts and political challenges on the ground.