Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: growing concern for children affected by the disaster

Plan International Indonesia’s emergency response team is on the ground in Palu and Donggala to carry out a rapid needs assessment as part of the coordinated response to the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.

“The team reached the affected areas early Tuesday morning by road after a long and difficult journey as there have been a number of aftershocks and landslides, which resulted in many roads being blocked and bridges damaged,” says Dini Widiastuti, Executive Director of Yayasan Plan International Indonesia, an Indonesian NGO affiliated with Plan International.

“By the border entering central Sulawesi, we can see damaged houses and buildings. A lot of tents have been set up and people are staying outside. I believe it’s because people are still concerned about the aftershocks,” explained Vanda Lengkong, Regional Head of Disaster Risk Management for Plan International.

“We see children together with their parents walking around the city, especially girls and mothers. There are also a lot of children begging on the street.”

There has been no electricity in Donggala since Friday after the earthquake.

“Along the coastline, we see a scene of near total destruction from the tsunami. There’s a big container floating in the ocean, cars completely destroyed, and trucks turned upside down,” said Lengkong.

“In Palu, what we see is mass destruction from the earthquake. Buildings have collapsed, and people are queuing at gas stations because gas is limited.”

There were reports of looting in the shops and markets in Palu city.

“We passed by the location where there’s a report of looting, however the situation seems to be under control.”

On the way to central Sulawesi the team also experienced an aftershock. “Many people looked really scared and concerned. Some of them say they don’t know what to do and they are afraid of a second tsunami.”

With their homes destroyed and multiple aftershocks continuing to cause fear and uncertainty, it is vital that girls and boys get the support they need to help them cope with what has happened, the organisation says.

“For children affected by this disaster, their lives have been turned upside down. The needs of children affected by the devastating earthquake must be prioritised in the response,” says Dini Widiastuti.

“It is also unknown at this stage how many have become separated from their families in the chaos, and these children in particular will be feeling especially fearful and are in urgent need of support.

“As well as water, food and shelter, it is vital that children are protected from abuse and exploitation and that we take action to help all children caught up in this disaster regain a sense of security and normality in their lives as soon as possible.”

The powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake and following tsunami hit Donggala district and the city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi on Friday 28 September at 05.02 PM (JKT time).

More than 1200 people are now known to have died in the disaster with over 48,000 people staying in temporary evacuation centres. It is estimated that the lives of over a million have been affected.

“We are coordinating closely with the Indonesian government, partners, and other humanitarian organisations to ensure that we reach all those affected by this tragedy. As a child rights organisation with a strong focus on gender equality, our primary concern is the safety, security and needs of children, especially girls and young women – including expectant and breastfeeding mothers – and our team will work to ensure that the distinct needs of these survivors are taken into account and met,” Widiastuti said.

Plan International Indonesia has non-food items including hygiene kits, tarpaulins, school kits and blankets pre-positioned in its warehouse in Jakarta.

These are ready to be dispatched as soon as the rapid needs assessment has determined what people are most in need of and how many people have been affected.

Plan International Australia has launched an emergency appeal to support the people of Sulawesi. Tax deductible donations can be made at: https://my.plan.org.au/sulawesi

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:

Lily Partland, Plan International Australia

Email: lily.partland@plan.org.au

Mobile: 0418 118 687

About Plan International Indonesia

Plan International has been working in Indonesia since September 2, 1969, based on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

On June 15, 2017, Yayasan Plan International Indonesia was approved by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia. Yayasan Plan International Indonesia was established to reach more children and girls in Indonesia, and to have an impact on sustainable development through long-term partnerships and broader fundraising.

About Plan International

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination. And it is girls who are most affected. Working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.

We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood. And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge.

We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years, and are now active in more than 70 countries.