Tsunami Relief Work Continues, Emergency Assistance Still Needed

Relief work continues in four countries struck hardest by the massive quake-tsunami disaster last December that slammed into coastal towns and villages across south and south East Asia, killing over 280,000 people and affecting millions throughout the region.

In Indonesia, where as many as 237,162 people died or are missing, international humanitarian agency Church World Service has focused on four main activities: emergency distribution of food and non-food items for over 12,000 internally displaced people in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar; a mobile clinic medical team and a psychosocial mental health team serving displaced people; and water supply and sanitation in Meulaboh.

So far, CSW has distributed and utilized Interchurch Medical Assistance Medicine Boxes containing medications and products to treat common illnesses of 1,000 adults and children for about three months. Meanwhile, nearly 13,000 household packages have been provided to the displaced families, now out of their homes for close to two months. The packages include food, as well as non-food items, such as blankets and "Gift of the Heart" Health Kits. Mosquito nets are also being distributed to help prevent malaria and other infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes.

In Rantau Panjang Village in Meulaboh, CWS staff has installed a water-treatment system that supplies 4,000 households with clean water. A second, larger water system is being installed and will be fully operational in the coming weeks. The project provides for clean water production and distribution; construction of 40 pit latrines; and the drilling of boreholes.

In the camps, the CWS psychosocial mental health (PMH) team is promoting trauma recovery through informal learning and play therapy for children and adults. The PMH team is also conducting on-site person-to-person counseling, group counseling, and community-based interventions.

Currently, CWS reports that the major concerns in relation to displaced persons are malnutrition, sanitation, disease, and trauma, particularly for women and for children under the age of five. There are some 5,000 children under the age of five displaced in Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar alone, CWS reported.

Assessments made at 19 camps in the region indicate the presence of serious malnutrition, as well as high rates of anemia among women and children due to a lack of protein and iron-rich foods. In addition, dysentery and other airborne infectious diseases are also prevalent. An estimated 10,000 children lost their parents and relatives throughout affected parts of Indonesia, and remain "unaccompanied."

“All or most of the displaced persons require emergency assistance—food, medicines, water, and shelter,” CWS reported. “Most families in the affected area—both those displaced and non-displaced—will require longer-term rehabilitation programs to fully recover from the tsunami—home reconstruction/repair; economic regeneration; rehabilitation of infrastructure and lifelines (education, water, sanitation systems); psychosocial counseling, etc.”

According to CWS, the two-year response will implement programs and also includes distribution of 50,000 CWS "Gift of the Heart" Health Kits; 5,000 Baby Kits; and 110 Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) Medicine Boxes.

Meanwhile in Thailand, CWS donated 100 Medicine Boxes to assist relief efforts there. Each Interchurch Medical Assistance Medicine Box provides 1,000 persons with basic medicines for a three-month period, and will be used in several clinics that are providing emergency and long-term treatment for tsunami survivors. The medicine boxes were sent to the Thai Red Cross under the patronage of HRH Princess Sirindhorn for distribution in the clinics.

In India, CWS and its member denominations have sent financial resources to partner Church's Auxiliary for Social Action for their continuing relief and rehabilitation efforts. And in Sri Lanka, CWS Pakistan staff is at work, and additional food items are on their way.

Contributions to support this work may be sent to directly to Church World Service at P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515. Contributions may also be made online at www.churchworldservice.org or by phone at 800-297-1516, ext. 222.