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At a glance: Indonesia

Aid distributed in communities hit by Java quake and tsunami

UNICEF Image: South Java tsunami child treated in Pangandaran
© UNICEF/HQ06-1053/ Purnomo
Deden, 7, hugs his uncle after the family’s home was destroyed in Pangandaran, the area hardest hit by the 17 July tsunami in Java.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 21 July 2006 – UNICEF emergency supplies are being distributed among communities in Java to help them cope with the aftermath of the tsunami that struck the south coast of the Indonesian island on 17 July, killing more than 500 people.

Six truckloads of aid arrived in the area within 48 hours of the disaster, which also forced thousands from their homes. The delivery, which came from Yogyakarta in Central Java, includes 200 tarpaulins and large tents, one health kit (with drugs and medical equipment), 1,000 hygiene kits, 24 water bladders and 5,000 jerry cans for carrying safe water.

The consignment is enough to help up to 40,000 people.

“For the people who have been displaced by the tsunami, tents and tarpaulins are going to provide important temporary shelter,” said UNICEF Communication Officer Mervyn Fletcher. He added that experience in Central Java after the 27 May earthquake there, and in Aceh province following the December 2004 tsunami, had demonstrated the importance of providing safe drinking water to homeless families.

“UNICEF water bladders and jerry cans will mean that many of those people who have been forced from their homes have a vital means of ensuring survival,” said Mr. Fletcher.

UNICEF Image: South Java hygiene kits for tsunami survivors
© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
Volunteers unload hygiene kits from a truck at the health centre in Pangandaran, West Java, where UNICEF is distributing 1,000 hygiene kits and 5,000 jerry cans to store water, among other supplies for tsunami survivors.

Supplies to coastline communities

Nine UNICEF staff members – led by UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano – are now on the ground assessing needs in the hard-hit South and West Java coastal region.

UNICEF has set up a distribution warehouse in Pangandaran, the beach resort close to the offshore epicentre of the earthquake that triggered the tsunami. From here, supplies are being delivered along the coastline to affected communities.

The quake measured 7.7 on the Richter Scale and was followed by several aftershocks. The tsunami sent six-foot waves crashing ashore and sent thousands running for higher ground. In addition to those killed, more than 900 people were injured and over 300 are still missing, with the majority of victims in West Java, according to Indonesia’s National Coordination Board for Disaster Management.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/ Purnomo
Injured when the tsunami struck Java on 17 July, 18-month old Adiwijaya is comforted in his mother’s arms before being treated at a health clinic in Pangandaran.

Focus on safe return to homes

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are living in temporary shelters and camps, either because their homes were destroyed or due to their fears of another tsunami. While supporting humanitarian needs in the camps, UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure the safe return of families and children to their homes wherever possible.

According to preliminary estimates, the tsunami washed away more than 1,000 homes and over 1,500 fishing boats, and heavily damaged many roads and bridges. Family livelihoods have been disrupted as well – 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.

UNICEF is currently working with the government to ensure the well-being of 27 children in the tsunami zone who have been separated from their families, and to reunite them with relatives at the earliest opportunity.

Tim Ledwith contributed to this story.



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