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Indonesia bulletin No. 3 – 22 February 2005

22-02-2005 Operational Update

ICRC activities to help tsunami victims

 General situation  

Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, was the region hardest hit by the undersea earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004. To date, 118,767 people are confirmed dead while 114,992 are still missing. About 400,000 displaced people are either living in camps or with host families. Barracks are being built in semi-permanent camps to which the displaced are now gradually being relocated.

The humanitarian situation in Aceh province has stabilized, heralding an end to the emergency phase and prompting the authorities, the international aid agencies and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to shift the focus of their activities to recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Most of the foreign troops in the province are scheduled to leave by the end of the month.

Even though the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in Aceh was severely affected by the tsunami, it was able quickly to mobilize its resources and volunteers to respond to the disaster provincewide. The ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and a number of National Societies have been supporting the PMI’s activities in aid of the population. A Movement coordination framework has been established to ensure a coherent and consolidated Movement response.

Last week, three earthquakes, the strongest measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale, resulted in scenes of panic in Banda Aceh, with people running for the hills and to the mosques.

 Evacuation  of the dead  

The ICRC co ntinues to provide the PMI with material for evacuating the dead. Teams of PMI volunteers have so far evacuated 60,000 bodies throughout the province. More than 1,200 PMI volunteers have participated in this and other activities since the tsunami struck.

 Assistance  

Together with the PMI, the ICRC continues to improve living conditions for the displaced by distributing household kits (shelter materials, mats, cooking equipment, hygiene articles, etc). The last distributions are to take place soon, bringing the total distributed to 60,000 kits for 300,000 people.

This week the ICRC also carried out a much appreciated distribution of underwear (a total of 898 boxes) in the camps.

 Health  

Surveys have been conducted   of health facilities in the coastal areas of Aceh Besar, Pidie and Aceh Utara in order to gauge how well they are functioning and what support they are receiving from the Ministry of Health and others. The tsunami destroyed a number of puskesmas (primary health care centers), increasing the workload for those that remain standing. The ICRC will provide them with basic medicines and equipment.

The ICRC/PMI field referral hospital is functioning well, with the number of in and out-patients growing. Since it opened, the hospital has admitted 229 in-patients, 48 of them this week, and treated 3,500 outpatients, including 608 this week. At present, 11 patients and 31 relatives are staying in the nearby camp for displaced discharged patients.

 Water and sanitation  

The ICRC continues to supply the water treatment plants in Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe with the necessary purification chemicals. This week 2 0 tonnes of aluminium sulphate and one tonne of calcium hypochlorite were provided to the water treatment plant in Lhokseumawe. The ICRC has also made available two trucks with which to distribute water for one month in Lhokseumawe.

 Restoring family links  

The " I am alive " booklets and posters have been updated and are currently being distributed in camps for displaced persons along the east and west coasts. The PMI/ICRC tracing teams continue to register unaccompanied minors and " I am alive " and " I am looking for " messages. The total figures to date are 6,380 " I am looking for " messages, 4,362 " I am alive " messages and 20 unaccompanied minors, four of whom have already been reunited with their families.

In all, the teams have enabled family links to be restored in 1,863 cases. They have also made satellite phones available so that the displaced can contact their relatives.

 Detention  

The ICRC has resumed its visits to places of detention. The aim of these visits is to monitor detainees’ conditions of detention and treatment. To date the ICRC has conducted initial visits in eight police stations.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Bernt Appeland, ICRC Aceh, tel. + 62 811 982 504  

 ICRC Jakarta, tel. + 62 21 720 72 52  

 Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 22 730 24 26 / + 41 79 217 32 64