Indonesia

ACT News Update Indonesia 02/04: ACT members assist families fleeing volcano in Indonesia

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Geneva, June 15, 2004-Two volcanoes in Indonesia, part of the Pacific "ring of fire," have become active with the June 9 eruption of Mt. Bromo on Java, which killed two people, and the eruption the following day of Mt. Awu on Sangihe Island, North Sulawesi.
Few people live in the area immediately around Mt. Bromo, while the affected population around Mt. Awu is 22,573 people in 6,179 families. Residents began evacuating in the days before the Mt. Awu eruption, when the volcano began spewing ash and smoke, and have been moving to school buildings, offices, halls and private homes in Tahuna, Petta and Enemawira districts.

Local members of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International have been responding to the needs of the Mt. Awu evacuees. According to the general secretary of the GMIST (Evangelical Church in Sangihe and Tahuna) Synod Board, the number of displaced people is rapidly increasing. The secretary said on June 12 that 19,375 people had been displaced since explosions from Mt. Awu began.

The GMIST church president and the local government report that the immediate needs of the displaced people are food, medicines (for malaria, diarrhea, flu and cough), mattresses and blankets. The rice stock in the town on Sangihe Island is limited.

In addition to the material assistance being provided by the government, GMIST congregations are providing food for displaced people. Residents and congregations in the areas where the displaced people have gone, together with local government workers, have opened public kitchens to serve the displaced.

The GMIST Synod Board has assembled a team to respond to the emergency. It will be responsible for monitoring the condition and situation of the displaced people related to shelter, food, water and sanitation, health and nutrition, administering the assistance and providing storage for food, distribution of material aid in cooperation with the government, and evaluating the response.

ACT member Yayasan Tanggul Benkana (YTB) is in contact with its local partners in the affected areas. It is providing 15 million rupiahs (approximately US$1,600), which will be sent to the GMIST Synod Board soon to assist in its efforts.

YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), another ACT member, has also assembled a team, which will be sent to the affected area in the next few days when it has more information from the Volcano and Mitigation Department and from other disaster-response networks already on site.

ACT member Church World Service-Indonesia is distributing 3,000 masks for the displaced people in Tahuna. It is also considering the distribution of rice and vegetables from the World Food Program to 2,725 displaced persons through the public kitchens.

All ACT members in Indonesia, including SAG Manado (General Synod of Churches in North and Central Sulawesi), are in close contact with each other as well as with local churches to coordinate their responses. They are also communicating with the local government of Sangihe, the PMI (Indonesian Red Cross) and the volcano expert in the Volcano and Mitigation Department.

Mt. Awu is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes. The last eruption was in August 1966, which caused 34 deaths and widespread damage.

For further information, please contact:

ACT Communications Officer Callie Long (mobile/cell phone +41 79 358 3171) or ACT Press Office Stephen Padre (mobile/cell phone +41 79 681 1868)

ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org

Callie Long
Communications Officer
ACT International Coordinating Office
Tel: +41 22 791 6039/6033
Mobile: +41 79 358 3171
Fax: +41 22 791 6506