Indonesian Red Cross scale-up Aceh earthquake relief efforts

Publié: 12 décembre 2016 4:54 CET

Four days after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Pidie Jaya District in Aceh, Indonesia, the humanitarian impact of the disaster becoming clearer. According to the National Disaster Management Agency, at least 100 people have been killed, while over 600 suffered injuries.  The earthquake damaged some 11,300 houses, over 100 offices, 88 shop-houses, nearly 60 mosques and over 30 schools. Over 65,000 people were displaced from their homes and many of the affected residents are fearful of aftershocks and are reluctant to return to their homes.


"We chose to stay in a tent outside our house rather than go back inside,” said 36-year-old Iskandar, who lives in the village of Panton Raya with his family. “We feel safer under the tarpaulins, my three children and wife were traumatized by the earthquake.”


The sub districts of Meureudu and Ulee Glee have been the most severely affected. Here, debris and wreckage from collapsed shop-houses litter the streets, with few of the buildings left standing. Damage to the main roads has blocked access to some of the affected areas, hindering relief efforts.


Since the earthquake, the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia) has been providing emergency aid and assisting in search and rescue activities. Early assessments indicate that water, sanitation and healthcare remain top priorities as relief efforts gather pace.  


“The Red Cross gives special attention to the needs of vulnerable groups such as mothers and children during the distribution of relief items,” said Arifin Muhammad Hadi, the Indonesian Red Cross’ Head of Disaster Management. “Our healthcare services will also cater to the disabled and elderly. We have prepared wheelchairs, crutches and physiotherapy treatments.”


So far, the Red Cross has provided mobile health services for 130 residents in the village of Kayee Jathoo in Pidie. The village’s existing health services were disrupted by the earthquake, which also damaged its only drug store. 


"The typical  health problems we generally find in these communities range from stomach problems to fever and upper respiratory tract infections," explained dr Wangsit Aryo Kirono, one of the Red cross’ medical personnel.


The earthquake also damaged water sources in many of the villages. Wells owned by residents have turned black and murky, forcing the villagers to rely on rainwater and rivers for their drinking water.


Agung Lestyawan, a Water and Sanitation Senior Officer from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), explained that the Red Cross will supply clean water to the affected communities through the use of water trucks.


"The water trucks and distributions of water purification tablets are just part of our process to ensure that the communities receive safe drinking water,” said Agung. “We will also conduct health awareness activities, promoting good hygiene practices to minimize the spread of water-borne diseases in areas badly affected by the earthquake.”


The IFRC has released 375,000 Swiss Francs (368,000 US Dollars) from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Indonesian Red Cross in providing assistance to 5,000 people affected by the earthquake. The funds will be used to support programmes in psychosocial support, health, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, shelter and livelihoods including the distribution of cash grants.


Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has also provided a contribution of 700,000 Australian Dollars (approximately 520,000 Swiss Francs), to help support  the earthquake relief efforts in Aceh. 


The National Society has also launched a domestic fundraising campaign. Donations can be made by clicking here.


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