CAFOD responds to wave of emergencies
As the latest reports come through of the scale of the damage caused by the twin disasters to hit Indonesia this week, CAFOD and its partners are responding on a number of fronts, providing emergency assistance and support to the communities we work with.
Indonesia hit by twin disasters
CAFOD has pledged £30,000 to help partners in Indonesia who are responding to the twin disasters which struck the country this week – a volcanic eruption in Yogyakarta, Java, and a tsunami in the Mentawai islands off the western coast of Sumatra.
Caritas Indonesia aid workers are travelling the long distance by boat to the remote Mentawai Islands to distribute vital emergency supplies, including shelter, clean water and cooking utensils. In Yogyakarta, a team of workers from the local Parish helped the community members to evacuate their homes. They are currently identifying the evacuees’ urgent needs to respond appropriately.
Over 400 people so far have been declared dead and 400 people are missing following the tsunami, which was triggered by a 7.7 Richter Scale underwater earthquake late on Monday [25th October]. It generated waves of up to 3 metres high that swept away hundreds of homes in ten villages. The earthquake also rocked towns along Sumatra’s western coast — including Padang, which last year was hit by a deadly 7.6-magnitude quake that killed 1100 people.
Less than 24 hours later, Mt Merapi (Fire Mountain), one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, erupted, spewing out rocks and ash, severely affecting the community living around the volcano. Up to 40,000 people living within the 10-kilometre danger zone were evacuated, with 34 people reported killed. Toxic gas and molten lava have left communities in the area at risk of breathing difficulties and health problems. Caritas is taking face masks, tarpaulins and warm clothes
CAFOD’s Indonesia Programme Manager Dini Widiastuti said: “This is a double hit for Indonesia that will really stretch a country still recovering from last year’s terrible earthquake. CAFOD is monitoring the situation through Caritas Indonesia and its diocesan networks. Caritas Indonesia – CAFOD’s main local partner providing emergency and humanitarian response – has significant experience in co-ordinating emergency responses, including the work undertaken following the Padang earthquake last year and the Wasior flash flood last month”.
Cholera outbreak adds to misery for Haitians
The cholera outbreak in the Artibonite and Central districts of earthquake-devastated Haiti has now claimed more than 280 lives and an estimated 3,769 are thought to be infected, according to the latest reports from Haiti.
So far, the disease has not taken hold in the major camp communities in and around the capital Port-au-Prince. However, work has begun in earnest to prepare for possible outbreaks in the more populated urban areas.
Outbreak of diseases resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene have been a potential fear which CAFOD and our Caritas partners have been working to guard against throughout the period of the response mounted following January’s earthquake in Haiti.
Due to this preparatory work, the teams responding on the ground have been able to distribute water purification supplies and hygiene kits from existing reserves put in place in order to allow them to deal with an outbreak such as this or any other water-borne disease. CAFOD staff have just returned from Haiti, where they been supporting ongoing work to improve hygiene and health education, including supporting the urban water and sanitation work in Port au Prince, and providing training sessions with our partner CRS’s Haitian staff.
CAFOD is in constant contact with CRS and our Caritas partners in Haiti to monitor the situation and we will mobilise any additional support needed if and when required.
CAFOD commits $50,000 to help survivors of Myanmar (Burma) cyclone
CAFOD partners are distributing emergency aid in affected areas of Myanmar (Burma) to ease the plight of communities devastated by the recent Cyclone Giri. [22nd October].
Cyclone Giri struck close to the town of Kyaukpyu on the western coast of Rakhine State, which has an estimated population of 209,000 people. According to assessments conducted by the Red Cross and local authorities, the number of people affected is confirmed to be almost 177,000 with over 70,000 people left homeless.
Winds reached speeds of 120 miles per hour, sweeping away houses, destroying rice crops and killing livestock, leaving many households at risk of food insecurity for the coming months. Families are currently taking shelter in local schools and churches, and in neighbours’ homes that were not destroyed. Groups of families have also been seen taking shelter under trees. Makeshift camps have been set up by the Myanmar Red Cross and the Social Welfare Ministry in Kyaukphyu Township to house about 5,000 people.
CAFOD’s Burma Programme Officer Sarah Belson said: “As always with disasters like this one, it’s vital to reach communities as soon as possible to assess and respond to their needs. CAFOD partners are providing food, water, and non-food items to people affected. To date, CAFOD’s local Church partner has distributed 292 bags of rice to families affected by the Cyclone. The local Church is planning to support a total of 1,250 families with emergency aid and 1,050 with construction materials to mend damaged homes. The Church is working closely with other agencies to co-ordinate their response and are focusing their efforts in a total of 23 villages.“
Despite difficulties with communications, CAFOD is keeping in regular contact with our local Church partners based in Yangon and the dioceses who are working on the response in order to monitor the situation and provide any additional support that is required.