The hardest hit country in last week’s earthquake and tsunami was Indonesia, particularly the tip of Sumatra island in Banda Aceh. At least 100,000 people have been killed in Indonesia.
For an update on relief operations there, English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua spoke with John Budd of UNICEF, who’s in Jakarta. He describes the biggest problems facing relief operations.
He says, “There are still two major life threatening problems in Aceh. The first one is still the issue of isolated pockets of people, particularly on the west coast who haven’t been necessarily identified and reached in a systematic way. The American military has been doing a phenomenal job reaching them and the Un also from Banda Aceh. So a huge effort is underway there…The second major problem that we have is one of sanitation. In the Banda Ache area, there has been a phenomenal effort in getting people food and water and fuel and all the sort of necessities that they need to kick start their lives again or just to keep going. But, however, there is this major problem of sanitation.”
Because many people are now living in makeshift camps, there is a risk of water borne disease. The UNICEF spokesman estimates 300,000 homes in Banda Ache have been destroyed and about 500,000 people have been displaced. They have little or no shelter.
He describes Banda Aceh as being like “Nagasaki or Hiroshima, only without the radiation.” Mr. Budd says besides the US military, the Australian and Singaporean militaries have been doing a great job of ferrying supplies.
Mr. Budd believes the relief effort will be a success due to the huge international support. “Amid this horrible desolation that you see when you go there, there are some things that can give you hope, something that you can grab hold of. And we will succeed because the global community has decided, as individuals and as governments, that this is going to happen and it will happen.”