Christian Relief Groups Distribute Aid to Quake Survivors

Desperately needed aid is reaching the survivors of Indonesia’s magnitude-6.3 quake as many Christian relief groups began their first major distribution of emergency supplies on Monday.

World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief and development organization in the world, distributed its first shipment of emergency supplies on Monday to several hundred villagers in the hardest-hit district of Bantul. Items included about 400 tarps for shelter, several hundred blankets and clothing items, and dozens of temporary beds.

“The villagers greatly appreciated the aid because it was the first help they had received so far,” said World Vision Relief Officer Iwan Raharja on Monday in a report released by WV. Raharja organized the distribution.

Additional WV relief items have already been dispatched for the other 1,500 families in Bantul over the next few days. The second distribution will include hygiene kits, cooking supplies, and hundreds more tarps and temporary beds.

The early morning quake on Saturday was Indonesia’s worst disaster since the 2004 9.1 magnitude quake-tsunami that claimed some 223,000 lives. The disaster fattened nearly all the buildings in Bantul and may have been responsible for triggering a nearby volcano.

With the latest death toll rising to more than 5,400, the country has officially declared itself to be in a state of emergency; thousands are injured and as many as 200,000 are thought to be homeless.

Other Christian groups have pledged initial funds for emergency relief such as Lutheran World Relief, which on Monday announced that it will commit an initial $25,000 to relief efforts that will be channeled through the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT), of which LWR is a member. Other organizations vowing to donate funds include: Salvation Army with US $200,000, Catholic Relief Service with $200,000, Caritas Internationalis with over US $1.2 million, and Norwegian Church Aid commitment of an initial sum of US $65,200.

“This is a serious emergency and we call upon the Norwegian people to show generosity,” says Knut Christiansen, NCA's Director of International Programs.

Geneva-based ACT Coordinating Office reported on Monday that it will issue a preliminary appeal to the alliance for about US $1.5 million for relief efforts in Indonesia.

In addition to committing funds to help quake survivors, an LWR representative in Indonesia, Elhadi Abdalla, is currently in Yogyakarta attending coordination meetings with Government of Indonesia officials, relief agencies, and ACT Coordinating members on preparing a response.

Church World Service (CWS), also a member of ACT, reported that it expected a shipment of 40 family-sized tents, 1,125 hygiene kits and 270 blankets to arrive on Monday in Solo. This was the first shipment of the 13 tons of supplies CWS plans to send for the affected people in Yogyakarta.

CWS is coordinating with its partners to acquire more information from other affected areas such as Klaten and Boyolali. CWS emergency team is also currently assessing six other sub-districts in Bantul district - Sabdodadi, Jetis, Plered, Imogiri, Sewon and Kasihan.

Other Christian groups helping with the relief efforts include Tearfund, Baptist World Aid, and Operation Blessing.