In Java quake’s aftermath, UNICEF expands relief efforts and monitors volcano threat | At a glance: Indonesia | UNICEF

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At a glance: Indonesia

In Java quake’s aftermath, UNICEF expands relief efforts and monitors volcano threat

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/Punomo
A child who survived the 27 May earthquake receives measles vaccine in Banyusoco village, Central Java. UNICEF is targeting over a million people, including children and adults, during its five-day immunization campaign.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 8 June 2006 – Nearly two weeks after the devastating earthquake in Central Java, Indonesia, UNICEF is concentrating its relief efforts on providing survivors with safe water and adequate sanitation, and has just launched a massive immunization campaign.

UNICEF and other agencies are also closely monitoring increased activity at the Mt. Merapi volcano in the quake zone.

“Sanitation facilities and the provision of clean water has been an issue here since there are more than 800,000 people affected by the earthquake,” said UNICEF Indonesia Communication Officer Kendartanti Subroto.

An estimated 130,000 of those affected have been left homeless by the disaster, most in or near the hard-hit city of Yogyakarta.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/Punomo
Measles immunization, tetanus vaccine and vitamin A supplements to boost immunity are being distributed throughout the Central Java quake zone, as survivors are more susceptible to contagious diseases following natural disasters.

Vaccines for children and adults

Meanwhile, health teams are working to address concerns that conditions in affected areas could lead to a rapid transmission of contagious disease among children.

“When there is crowding in situations like Yogyakarta and Central Java, measles can spread easily,” said Ms. Subroto. In response to that danger, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and Indonesia’s Ministry of Health yesterday began an immunization campaign in which children between the ages of 6 months and five years are receiving measles vaccine as well as vitamin A supplements, which boost their immunity.

Tetanus is another major concern; in the adult population, it typically appears 10 to 15 days following such disasters, after cuts and wounds have been infected with tetanus spores. To prevent infection, the immunization drive is providing tetanus vaccine to people aged 15 to 60.

In total, the vaccination effort is targeting about 320,000 children in Central Java and Yogyakarta, while at least 1.2 million adolescents and adults are expected to receive tetanus shots.

© Reuters
UNICEF is closely monitoring increased activity at the Mt. Merapi volcano in Central Java, Indonesia, as it continues earthquake relief efforts concentrating on water, sanitation and immunization.

Volcano threat looms

Even as relief efforts continue, there has been a worrying upsurge in activity at Indonesia’s most dangerous volcano, Mt. Merapi. Today, the volcano spewed a roiling cloud of hot gas and ash down its southern slope, sending thousands of people running for safety.

More than 5,000 people in close proximity to Mt. Merapi have been living in camps since volcanic activity there intensified on 13 May. Many of them return to the mountain slopes during the day to work and live in the camps at night.

Ms. Subroto said the volcano had been a focus of UNICEF’s attention since before the earthquake. “For about one and a half months, we have been closely monitoring the activities of Mt. Merapi,” she noted. “At the moment, we have ordered supplies to help the government if it is necessary, and we are now replenishing our warehouse in Yogyakarta.” 

For now, three villages near the volcano have been evacuated, and six villages in the vicinity are on standby.

UNICEF has been working closely with the Indonesian Government to coordinate possible evacuations. In a worse-case scenario, up to 80,000 people could be affected by a major eruption.




9 June 2006:
UNICEF correpondent Kun Li reports on the immunization drive that is protecting 320,000 quake-affected Indonesian children from measles.
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8 June 2006: UNICEF Communication Officer Kendartanti Subroto provides an update on relief efforts in earthquake-devastated Central Java. Correspondent Sabine Dolan reports.
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