As death toll climbs from Indonesia quake, Catholic agency takes action
Michelle La Rosa Aug. 10, 2018
With hundreds dead and thousands left homeless by a major earthquake in Indonesia last weekend, Catholic Relief Services is working to bring shelter and necessities to survivors.
“Our priority now is to get as much information from the field as possible for us to make decisions on what support we can provide to the affected population,” said Yenni Suryani, who is leading Catholic Relief Services' emergency response in the country.
On Sunday, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake tore through the north of the country. Estimated death tolls have ranged from 250 with 350, with officials stressing that the numbers may continue to climb.
In addition, more than 1,400 were injured and some 270,000 were displaced, according to government officials.
A Red Cross representative told CNN that aid workers are having trouble reaching those in need of assistance in mountainous areas, due to landslides and debris blocking roads.
A search and relief official told state-run Antara news agency that survivors are dealing with trauma, and some are scared to be indoors following the earthquake.
Caroline Brennan, emergency communications director for Catholic Relief Services, told CNA that the agency’s humanitarian response efforts are already underway.
“CRS and its local Church partners are currently carrying out initial assessments in North Lombok District,” the area most affected by the earthquake, she explained.
So far, assessments into three villages in the region show that nearly 90 percent of houses are either severely damaged or totally destroyed, and more than 90 percent of the population is displaced or sleeping outside in tents, she said.
In addition, electricity and communications systems remain down.
“From the initial assessment in these three villages, the CRS team identified immediate needs that include food items, shelter kits, clean water,” Brennan said.
“The team also reported that people in these three villages are resorting to ready-to-eat and instant foods as they are not yet able to get fresh food from the markets, which are still closed.”
Suryani, who is based in Jakarta, said that as Catholic Relief Services continues conducting its initial assessments, it is reporting its findings to the local government.
The agency will then work with local partners to address the greatest needs, especially for those who have lost their homes and are sleeping out in the open.
“CRS plans to support partners to provide emergency shelter kits,” which include tarps, blankets, and sleeping mats, for the affected population, she told CNA.
But while immediate relief efforts are already underway, full recovery for the people affected by the earthquake will be a slower process, Suryani said.
“Given the scale of the impacts of the disaster, the recovery will take time,” she said, and this will require not only rebuilding physical infrastructure, but “most importantly psychological recovery because people lost their loved ones, assets and livelihood.”
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