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Disaster Relief: First Report Indonesia


We have just (5/1/5) received this report from Gregor Nitihardjo, Head of Operations in Indonesia.

Field workers from SOS Children left Jakarta on 31 December 2004 headed for Aceh, via Medan, the capital of the Northern Sumatra Province. Their ultimate aim was to reach Meulaboh, which is the town closest to the centre of the earthquake, and the most devastated town. It is still very isolated.

Base camp was set up at Bakongan, where our team helps traveling refugees (adults and children) by providing them with food. Many have left their local community to find relatives in Northern Sumatra province. Often they have nothing left - their houses have been washed away and their close family are missing or dead.

Bridges between Bakangan and Meuloboh have been destroyed so it is impossible to get to Meulobah by road and traveling by boat is the only alternative. The team have travelled to Tapaktuan bringing with them supplies (food, clothes, medicine, working tools, milk for children, and drawing books, books and toys for children). After Tapaktuan, the hardest part of the journey will come - the area between here and Meulobah has seen clashes with the Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian Army. Our team can only proceed if guarded by the Indonesian Army.

At Kutanibong, which is the next destination, there are approximately 1,000 people including young people who are yet to receive support. In responses to the disaster, we have volunteer support going to Aceh from several places in Java and Bali, using people with specific skills and sectors such as; medicine, rescue, psychologist, education, social workers, and technicians. We are hoping to get a second group of volunteers over next week.

Most of the work is burying bodies in Aceh. Almost everywhere it smells very badly, even in the capital Banda Aceh, where already many volunteers work. There is a possibility that orphans from Aceh will be able to come to the SOS Children’s Community in Jakarta. In addition we are looking at the option of opening a new village in Indonesia in the long-term.

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