IOM Backs Indonesia’s Response to Earthquake, Tsunami Delivering Water, NFIs to Devastated Areas

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IOM emergency response specialists working with government and UN partners assess the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi. © IOM 2018

Palu – As search and rescue operations begin to wind down in Central Sulawesi, following the September 28th earthquake and tsunami, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) is deploying staff and aid to the affected area at the request of the Indonesian authorities. Three IOM specialist staff, including a doctor, will today take part in a multi-agency assessment mission in the affected area.

IOM will tomorrow dispatch an 11-truck convoy from Makassar in southern Sulawesi to Donggala, one of the worst affected towns in the area, carrying 83,600 liters of drinking water in 19-liter re-usable plastic bottles. The convoy, the first of six or seven scheduled over the coming days, will have a police escort over the roughly 24-hour road journey.

Drinking water has been identified as one of the most urgent needs in the area, where basic infrastructure including mains water and electricity were knocked out by the disaster. While the government is working all out to restore access to power and clean water in the coming days, the IOM water shipment, organized at the request of the Indonesian military, will provide a stop gap solution in an area that has yet to get the same level of aid as neighboring Palu.

IOM is also providing a 10,000-liter water bladder, 4,000 emergency shelter kits and 4,000 household (NFI) kits to help survivors of the disaster, which left at least 1,581 people dead and 2,550 people seriously injured. At least 113 people are still missing, and numbers of casualties are expected to rise as areas previously cut off by landslides and flooding become accessible. An estimated 66,000 houses have been damaged and almost 71,000 people are displaced and staying in over 140 sites.

IOM will this week start to work with the Indonesian authorities to map the extent of displacement caused by the earthquake and tsunami. The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs have agreed to coordinate their assessments to map the disaster using IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – a tool that shows how many people have been displaced, where they are and their immediate needs.

The government-led assessment will start with the identification of displacement sites. Once a site is identified, the BNPB will register families using an agreed format. The survey data will be collected by 300 students flown into Palu from Makassar by the Indonesian military. IOM and UNFPA will provide technical and logistical support and the information will be shared on a public website to inform the humanitarian response.

“We are working closely with our government counterparts and partner agencies to ensure that the humanitarian community has the data it needs to provide an effective humanitarian response. The DTM will help us to ensure that the right aid goes to the people who need it most,” said IOM Indonesia Chief of Mission Mark Getchell.

Earlier this week IOM allocated USD 200,000 from its internal funds to kickstart its emergency response operation. Additional funding is now expected from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, one of the most seismically active countries on earth. On 5 August, a 6.9 magnitude quake and a series of strong aftershocks struck the island of Lombok, 1,700km from Palu, killing at least 430 people and injuring 1,300 more. Tens of thousands remain displaced and more than 67,000 houses are reported to have been damaged.

A 9.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra on Boxing Day 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed an estimated 220,000 people, including more than 160,000 Indonesians.

Since that time Indonesia has invested considerably in its emergency response systems. IOM has worked closely with the national disaster planning agency on trainings and simulations over the years, particularly in Aceh province, the area hardest hit in 2004.

IOM has worked in Indonesia since 1979 and currently has 16 offices and 11 project sites across the country. These include two offices in Sulawesi.

For more information please contact Mark Getchell at IOM Indonesia, Tel: +62 8111092582, Email: