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At a glance: Indonesia

UNICEF opens first child protection centre in Indonesia quake zone

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/Estey
A young boy draws in the comfort and security of the UNICEF child centre in the hard-hit Bantul district of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

By Rachel Bonham Carter

NEW YORK, USA, 31 May 2006 – Just three days after a devastating earthquake struck Central Java in Indonesia, UNICEF has opened the first child protection centre in the quake zone.

The centre opened yesterday in the Bantul district of Yogyakarta city – the district worst hit by the 27 May earthquake, which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The death toll in the disaster has reached almost 5,500, with a majority of the victims in Bantul. Up to 200,000 people have been left homeless in the quake’s aftermath.
“Children represent around 40 per cent of those wounded and displaced by the earthquake, and the psychological effect on them has been enormous,” said UNICEF Child Protection Officer Roberto Benes. “It is essential to provide them with an immediate framework in which to resume normal activities, feel safe again and, if necessary, undergo trauma counselling to help them through this experience.”

Already, children can be seen playing together at the centre and beginning their recovery process, while UNICEF-trained staff also educate their families about the importance of looking after their children in this time of crisis.

The Bantul child centre is the first of five to be opened this week in the Yogyakarta area by UNICEF’s Child Protection Programme. Other centres and mobile services are planned to reach children living in more remote areas.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/Estey
UNICEF Child Protection Officer Frederic Sizaret helps construct the first child centre in Bantul district, which opened just three days after an earthquake struck the island of Java.

Emergency supply deliveries

Meanwhile, UNICEF’s first supply plane arrived just 48 hours after the earthquake, and additional flights are ongoing. The initial aid deliveries – including some emergency equipment from the tsunami relief effort in Indonesia’s Aceh province – have provided water bladders, family tents, tarpaulins, stoves and domestic cooking kits, as well as school tents, education supplies and recreation kits.

The first distribution point for basic family hygiene kits (containing washing necessities such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste) was the severely overcrowded Bantul district hospital. Trucks have since been delivering materials to villages across the region, including 320,000 litres of clean water a day – essential for keeping children and families alive and healthy.

The village of Kepek, at the earthquake’s epicentre, lost some 80 per cent of its homes. Survivors received their first truckload of UNICEF supplies yesterday.

© UNICEF Indonesia/2006/Estey
A girl plays at the child centre in Bantul district.

Survival, education and recovery

Immediate survival needs – including food, water and sanitation – remain a key focus for relief workers in the disaster zone. But ensuring a swift return to normalcy for children there is a core priority for UNICEF.

In the coming days and weeks, UNICEF will continue to distribute essential goods and provide vital support across the affected region, with a particular emphasis on shelter, hygiene and child protection. A back-to-school programme, already in motion, will see the distribution of school tents and education materials in time for the start of school on 18 July after the annual vacation.

By providing safe centres for recreation and psycho-social support, and temporary classrooms for continuing their schooling, UNICEF is working to give children the best possible chance in life after the earthquake.




31 May 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter reports on the opening of the first child centre for survivors of the earthquake in Central Java, Indonesia.
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27 May 2006:
UNICEF Indonesia Communication Officer John Budd describes immediate efforts to help quake-affected families in central Java. Reported by correspondent Sabine Dolan.
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