Asian earthquake and tsunamis - 30 Dec. 2004
30-12-2004 News Release
Following the disaster in Asia, the ICRC is concentrating its relief efforts on Sri Lanka and the Indonesian province of Aceh, areas where it had a strong presence before the catastrophe. The overall relief operations of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement are being coordinated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Due to its strong presence in northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka prior to this disaster, the ICRC is coordinating the response of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement in these areas. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is mobilising efforts in the southern and south-western coastal areas.
Assistance activities were launched within hours of the disaster, with local ICRC and National Society staff distributing non-food relief items out of existing or locally bought stocks to several thousand families.
ICRC staff have also distributed medical items to two hospitals in northern Sri Lanka and dispatched several 15,000 litre water tanks to the affected areas.
Based on information received from the ICRC field offices in Jaffna, Vanni, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, the ICRC, in close collaboration with the Sri Lankan Red Cross and local authorities, aims to continue to deliver essential household items to around 30,000 families over the coming week.
On December 29, a first relief flight carrying more than 100 tonnes of tarpaulins, blankets, buckets, jerry cans and other emergency items arrived in Colombo from the ICRC logistics base in Nairobi. Further flights from Nairobi are planned for today and tomorrow. An ICRC flight also left Geneva on December 30 carrying 10 tons of medical and sanitation equipment.
In Colombo, relief parcels are being put together at an improvised " assembly line " from where they will be sent to affected areas.
The ICRC is also involved in tracing activities, with joint ICRC/Sri Lanka Red Cross field teams helping separated families restore contact through the use of satellite phones.
Since the beginning of the crisis, staff have also been transporting human remains to hospitals and morgues and, when possible, returning those identified to their families.
Over the coming days, the ICRC plans to further reinforce its assistance operations, continuing to deliver additional household goods, shelter and medical supplies while aiming to provide safe drinking water to about 200,000 people. To support these operations, additional staff are also being sent to Sri Lanka.
In Indonesia, the ICRC is mainly active in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalem, the area worst hit by the initial earthquake and the tsunamis it caused.
The situation here remains less than clear, although ICRC employees in the main town of Banda Aceh have described the devastation and loss of life as dramatic.
The ICRC has been working closely with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), providing relief for around 1,000 families. It is reinforcing its presence in the region to try to assess the extent of the survivors'needs and prepare its response. Depending on the evaluation, the ICRC is ready to provide emergency non-food relief items, sanitation and basic medical items to at least 300,000 people.
In collaboration with the Singapore Red Cross, the ICRC is setting up a logistics base for operations in Aceh.
As in Sri Lanka, the ICRC is coordinating its operations closely with the International Federation and the Indonesian Red Cross.