Plan International in Indonesia is deploying an emergency response team to the worst affected areas on the island of Sulawesi, as the death toll from a tsunami that struck over the weekend continues to rise.
Working through partner organisation Yayasan Plan International Indonesia, the child rights agency will assess the needs of children – and girls and young women in particular – alongside other organisations on the ground.
Dini Widiastuti, Executive Director of Yayasan Plan International Indonesia, said while official figures now put the death toll at more than 800, with at least 540 injured, and over 16,000 people displaced, the number of children impacted is not yet clear.
“It is still really difficult to know more precise information about who or how many have been affected, because some areas still have major problems with communications,” she said.
“The key focus for now remains search and rescue operations – there are still people trapped in buildings and many people are looking for family members, so identifying and rescuing people is the most important thing.
“Among those who have been separated from family members are children. We obviously have concerns for their safety, and there will need to be particular care given to those children to enable them to be reunited with their parents.”
Ms Widiastuti said the Yayasan Plan International Indonesia team would take with them some supplies such as drinking water and shelters to provide girls and women with some privacy in a chaotic environment.
“These tents will offer women a place to breastfeed, and for adolescent girls to get changed, as they are some of the most vulnerable in an emergency situation such as this. It is important they are able to protect their dignity and feel safe in this difficult situation.”
Plan International has been operating in Indonesia for 49 years and provided emergency relief during the Lombok earthquake, Merapi eruption and Aceh tsunami.