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Red Cross Appeals for Aid for Indonesian Quake Victims

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has revised upward its emergency appeal for Indonesian earthquake victims to $31 million. The federation says the money is needed to provide humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands earthquake survivors over the next 12 months.

The International Red Cross estimates the earthquake, which struck the ancient city of Yogyakarta, killed more than 5,000 people, injured more than 34,000 and damaged or destroyed at least 130,000 homes.

Red Cross spokeswoman, Anna Nelson, says survivors need medical care, food, drinking water, sanitation facilities and emergency shelter for about 325,000 homeless people. She says people also are in need of psychological counseling to help them cope with their traumatic experiences.

"Indonesia is a region that is very prone to disasters," said Anna Nelson. "And, of course, in this case, we still have the threat of the nearby Mt. Merapi volcano, which is still threatening to erupt and could affect this operation significantly. So, that is another element of it. But, in terms of psycho-social support, it is helping people to come to terms with their losses. It is helping them to cope with their situation. They live with the constant threat of floods, volcanic activity and earthquakes."

Nelson notes the monsoon season begins in September in the region, so it is urgent that people get equipped with tents and tarpaulins before the heavy rains begin. She says the Red Cross will start rehabilitation and recovery activities in parallel with the emergency operation.

The Red Cross official adds that recent major disasters, such as the earthquake in Pakistan last year, have shown that the earlier rehabilitation begins, the sooner survivors are able to rebuild their communities and return to normal life.