“What we have witnessed since Friday is horrifying”

 Indonesia
 Emergency Response
 3rd Oct 2018

“What we have witnessed since Friday is horrifying”, says Rini Haris, a 37 year old mother of two who lives in Palu, the densely populated city in the north central part of the island Sulawesi in Indonesia.

"Thankfully my store and house aren’t damaged – only cracked, but many houses in the surrounding area have been destroyed. I am currently staying in a wooden hut next door to my home and my kids are taking refuge in a shelter at the elementary school. Electricity is out so it is difficult to get information from others or communicate. There is a lot of looting and theft and I am having to be very vigilant. Our drinking water and clean water is almost finished.”

Rini is describing the aftermath of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit the island and the subsequent 6 metre high tsunami that hit many nearby coastal areas. The scenery can only be described with one word: chaos. 

Many people are sleeping in communal shelters, or out in the open and access to drinking water and cover from the rain are a big problem. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable. Rini notes that many pregnant women have been evacuated to Makassar in the south of the island, but many – especially those without money - remain in this chaos, posing risks to their and their chilren’s health .

Among the most frightening stories the phenomenon called liquefaction. Some people have witnessed mud seeping up and flowing from the ground and is particularly worrying.

However, Rini, as a former employee of CARE Indonesia and her husband who also used to work for a humanitarian organization are not losing their hope.

“My husband and I are still in good spirits, because we have experience in humanitarian organizations. I used to work for CARE from 2004 to 2008 in Poso. I really hope that CARE will reach Palu to help with medicines, clean water, food, emergency shelters, blankets and baby necessities. The people of Sulawesi are in urgent need of medical services due to the high number of casualties. Local facilities cannot bear the burden of this tragedy without extra assistance” says Rini.

CARE is participating in a joint assessment of the damages caused by the earthquake and tsunami that has so far killed around 1,407 people and left a further 2,550 injured. CARE is aiming to support a total of 50 - 70,000 people, mainly in Donggala area - the more difficult area to reach and the least likely to receive needed assistance - with life-saving drinking water, sanitation, shelter and livelihood support. Around 1.6 million people are currently thought to be affected by the disaster. Approximately 350,000 live in Palu and 270,000 in Donggala.

CARE hopes to raise a total budget of USD 15 million for a period of 3 years, beginning immediately with emergency shelter kits and by focusing on providing access to clean water, health services and other supplies that will cover the immediate needs of those affected by the tsunami.

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