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UN relief agencies: Sulawesi devastation ‘beyond imagination’



The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said that more emergency shelter supplies and relief for thousands of victims of Indonesia’s recent earthquake and tsunami is set to arrive on the island of Sulawesi in the coming days. The disaster have killed more than 2,000 people, displaced 80,000 and destroyed nearly 70,000 houses. Around 680 individuals remain unaccounted for, UNHCR said on Friday. ‘’Our staff described the effects of the earthquake and tsunami as ‘beyond imagination’ and ‘devastating’,’’ said Charlie Yaxley, spokesperson for UNHCR.

In total, 435 tents have been delivered to the hub at Balikpapan airport, on the neighbouring island of Borneo. The relief items were delivered to Indonesian authorities, which assisted with transferring them to Sulawesi, Yaxley confirmed. Around 1,305 tents will be delivered to Balikpapan in the next few days, he added. Far more material and psychological assistance will be required, however, and additional emergency tents, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and solar lamps will be delivered in the coming weeks, he said. ‘’There remains a strong resilience, with people helping each other where they can and simply by sharing their stories,’’ Yaxley said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is also assisting with the relief effort after installing storage facilities at Palu airport in Sulawesi in early October.

Another 10 “mobile storage hubs” are being set up around Palu and Donggala “to ensure the smooth flow and distribution of aid to where it is needed”, WFP said in a statement.”WFP is due to have 40 trucks in operation in and around Palu by 20 October,” said spokesperson Verhoosel.

“These trucks will be available to all partners through a common services agreement for transporting and distributing aid.”Palu in Central Sulawesi, is one of the worst-hit areas. Earlier this week, UNHCR staff went there to coordinate with local government and partners. In Petobo and Balaroa, “many people have not only lost their home, but even the land on which it once stood”, Yaxley said.

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