Indonesia

Indonesia: six months on, volcano victims still unable to rebuild their homes

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After the eruptions, more and more people living on the slopes of the volcano have lost their homes due to the destructive force known as 'cold lava' where volcanic ash, stones and other material are brought down the mountain by the rivers.

Yogyakarta, 6 April, 2011 – Six months after the initial eruption, Indonesia's most active volcano still prevents people from returning home and rebuilding their lives on the dangerous slopes of Mount Merapi.

One of the most active of the 129 volcanoes in Indonesia, the latest eruption of Mount Merapi caused the deaths of 322 people and led to the displacement of another 136,585. After the eruptions, more and more people living on the slopes of the volcano have lost their homes due to the destructive force known as 'cold lava' where volcanic ash, stones and other material are brought down the mountain by the rivers.

In addition to the 100,000 people who lost their homes to the volcanic eruption, a further approximately 3,750 were newly displaced as a consequence of the eruption's aftershock, cold lava. Shortly after the eruption in late October, JRS responded to the natural disaster providing emergency assistance in some of the 13 government-managed camps.

JRS provided food, medicine, sleeping mats, sanitary products and clothing through distribution points for displaced persons living outside of the official camps and directly to people sheltered in surrounding villages. With the help of 177 volunteers JRS assisted 75,957 IDPs and returnees during the initial four months.

The JRS response to the crisis has focused on providing to the most vulnerable displaced persons and offering support where other NGOs and governmental agencies were not present.

Follow-up advocacy

Although the government-established temporary shelters are located outside the evacuation zone – a safe distance from the volcano – thousands of people fled to surrounding villages and were taken in by locals. While many villagers said they were happy to assist those displaced, it was apparent they did not have the capacity or income to care for them.

Even though the JRS Indonesia emergency response has come to an end, staff continue to stay in contact with the displaced population there and share information on their needs and concerns in local coordination meetings with authorities.