Indonesia: Massive relief effort under way three weeks after earthquake and tsunami
Palu / Geneva, 18 October 2018 - Three weeks after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Sulawesi on 28 September, a massive effort is under way to distribute 215 metric tons of relief items (equivalent to the weight of 107 medium-sized cars) before monsoon rain sets in.
So far, the Indonesian Red Cross, supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies, has distributed tarpaulins to more than 4,600 families (18,500 people), along with other emergency supplies including tents, sleeping mats, water containers, kitchen and hygiene equipment, and 747,000 litres of safe drinking water.
Three weeks on, the Red Cross is still reaching communities that have been cut off by landslides and damaged roads since the disaster, lacking any outside help for basic, urgent needs. There is no time to lose. Recent deluges, a warning of the looming monsoon season which runs from November to June, have hampered access to some survivors.
Arifin Muhammad Hadi, head of disaster management at the Palang Merah Indonesia (also known as the Indonesian Red Cross) says, "More than 600 Indonesian Red Cross volunteers have been working tirelessly to meet basic needs, particularly water and shelter. We have distributed tarpaulins and blankets, and are setting up hundreds of tents in areas like Donggala to help keep families safe from the elements as the weather worsens."
The government estimates more than 87,000 people have been displaced and thousands are living in poor conditions in makeshift camps. With more than 634 aftershocks in three weeks, even families who still have a home are afraid to stay indoors.
Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Under Secretary-General, who is visiting Palu, says, "The rain is bringing mud and misery for survivors of the double disaster, who are exposed to the poor weather and the risk of disease. Doctors in our Red Cross mobile health clinics are already seeing patients with coughs, flu and diarrhoea."
Apart from distributing shelter materials, the Indonesian Red Cross is preparing people for the rainy season by broadcasting preparedness messages on local radio channels and expanding health services. In Sirenja, which had been cut off by landslides and road damage, the Red Cross' medical team set up a field clinic with doctors, nurses, midwives and psychosocial support services this week. Meanwhile, more than 4,100 survivors have been treated for injuries and sickness at five mobile Red Cross clinics.
The IFRC is appealing for 22 million Swiss francs (22 million US dollars / 19 million euros) to support the Indonesian Red Cross to reach 160,000 people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, and a series of earthquakes on the island of Lombok.
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IFRC is the world's largest humanitarian network, comprising 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.