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At a glance: Indonesia

Families displaced by tsunami in Java begin returning to their homes

UNICEF Image: Indonesia, Emergencies
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
Eighteen-month-old Adiwijaya sits with his mother, Enti, at a relative’s house in Pangandaran, West Java. Their own home was destroyed by the tsunami.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 24 July 2006 – One week after an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the south and west coast of Indonesia’s Java island, killing more than 500 people, many families in the affected areas are beginning to return home.

About 1,000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged by the six-foot waves that rushed ashore on 17 July, but almost 60,000 people fled their homes for temporary shelter further inland as aftershocks fuelled fears of another tsunami. The number of people still sleeping in shelters or camps is now less than 12,000.

The safe return of all families and children to their homes wherever possible is a key priority of UNICEF and its partners in the region.

A small number of children in the tsunami zone have been registered as orphaned, separated from their families or unaccompanied. UNICEF is working with the government to ensure their well-being and to reunite them with relatives at the earliest opportunity.

Meanwhile, more than 8,000 children under the age of five are being targeted this week in a joint UNICEF-World Health Organization measles immunization programme. Health teams are also tracking down all those injured during the tsunami to ensure that they receive a tetanus vaccination.

UNICEF Image: Indonesia, Emergencies, Tsunami
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
A tsunami survivor carries hygiene kits that were distributed by UNICEF in Pagar Gunung village, West Java.

Supplies to meet basic needs

Over 900 people were injured in the tsunami, and at least 300 are still missing. UNICEF continues to assist survivors with humanitarian aid that was delivered within 48 hours of the disaster, when six trucks brought in enough supplies to meet the basic needs of 40,000 people.

Among the supplies were 200 tarpaulins and large tents for shelter, a health kit with drugs and medical equipment, 24 water bladders and 5,000 jerry cans for carrying safe water.

”Today we distributed 1,000 family hygiene kits, two big tents for children in the camps, water bladders and 100 tarps,” UNICEF field office chief Steve Aswin said on Thursday.

In addition to homes, roads, bridges and other infrastructure washed away, the tsunami has disrupted family livelihoods – especially for those employed in tourism in Pangandaran and other beach resort areas, where hundreds of hotels, shops and restaurants have been destroyed or damaged.

Three schools were also damaged, and UNICEF is working with the local authorities to integrate pupils into other schools that have reopened.




24 July 2006:
UNICEF’s Suzanna Dayne reports on the effects of the Java tsunami and ongoing efforts to assist survivors.
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