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The death toll from a earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia has risen to over 1,700
by Red Cross, Jakarta Post, IRIN, agencies
26 Oct. 2018
Disaster ravaged Sulawesi drenched by heavy rains, more than 220,000 still homeless. (Reliefweb)
Heavy rainfall has inundated earthquake and tsunami hit parts of central Sulawesi in recent days, sparking fears of a potential outbreak of disease while making relief efforts even more challenging, warns Save the Children’s local partner.
More than 220,000 people remain homeless on the Indonesian island after their houses were destroyed or badly damaged in the disaster, which claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people. This comes after 431,000 people lost their homes on the island of Lombok in July and August following a series of major earthquakes.
“The start of the rainy season has well and truly arrived here in central Sulawesi, which is the last thing needed by the thousands of families who lost their homes and are now sleeping in makeshift shelters, evacuation centres or under tarpaulins,” said Selina Sumbung, Chairperson of Save the Children’s partner in Indonesia, Yayasan Sayangi Tunas Cilik.
“We’re particularly concerned the rains could also bring an increased risk of an outbreak of disease or illness. We are already seeing an increase of cases of diarrhea and respiratory infection, while suspected cases of malaria, dengue fever and varicella have also been reported.
“It is likely we’re going to see more and more people getting sick going forward, given how hard it is to maintain hygiene standards, with the rains providing the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos, and with hundreds if not thousands of bodies believed to be decomposing in the ground.”
Save the Children, through YSTC, has already reached more than 16,000 people, having been one of the first NGO’s on the ground on the fourth day of the disaster. As well as delivering items such as shelter kits, mosquito nets, hygiene kits, and conducting water trucking activities, the agency has also set up child friendly spaces and temporary learning centres, providing children with psychosocial support, and tracing and reuniting separated families.
Ms Sumbung said the rain brought an additional challenge for aid agencies in accessing the hardest-to-reach communities.
“The rains have turned several dirt roads into mud, not to mention increasing the risk of landslides. One of the major roads to the north of Donggala district is now too dangerous to travel on because of the landslide risk, making it even harder to reach some of the most isolated towns and villages,” she said.
“Our teams are having to travel by boat in many instances because it’s the only feasible way of getting around. Logistically, this was already an incredibly challenging response due to the extent of damage to bridges and other vital infrastructure. Now it’s just been made even more difficult.”
Ms Sumbung urged international donors step up and fund not only the response in Sulawesi, but also the response in Lombok, where more than 550 people died in July and August.
“With the rainy season beginning, we’re at a critical stage in both Lombok and Sulawesi. More than 650,000 people were made homeless across both islands, many of whom are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including food, water, shelter, health and nutrition support, and education for children,” Ms Sumbung said. “Now that the media crews have left, it’s more important than ever that donors dig deep and increase their support for affected communities in Lombok and Sulawesi.”
7 Oct. 2018
Earthquake Death toll now exceeds 1700, as many as 5,000 missing. (AFP/SBS News)
Indonesia''s disaster agency has provided updated figures on the number of people missing and the official death toll. As many as 5,000 people are believed missing from the quake and tsunami that struck Indonesia''s Palu city, an official said, an indication that far more may have perished in the twin disaster than the current toll suggests.
Indonesia''s disaster agency say they have recovered 1,763 bodies so far from the 7.5-magnitude and subsequent tsunami that struck Sulawesi on September 28.
But there are fears that two of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in Palu -- Petobo and Balaroa -- could contain thousands more victims, swallowed up by the ground as it engulfed whole communities.
"Based on reports from the (village) heads of Balaroa and Petobo, there are about 5,000 people who have not been found," agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters Sunday.
"Nevertheless, officials there are still trying to confirm this and are gathering data. It is not easy to obtain the exact number of those trapped by landslides, or liquefaction, or mud."
Nugroho said the search for the unaccounted would continue until October 11, at which point they would be listed as missing, presumed dead.
The figure drastically increases the estimates for missing people since the disaster struck 10 days ago. The latest tally speaks to the considerable destruction in the worst-hit areas of Petobo and Balaroa as the picture on the ground has become clearer.
Petobo, a cluster of villages in Palu, was one of the worst-hit by the powerful quake and wall of water that devastated the coastal city.
Much of it was sucked whole into the ground as the vibrations from the quake turned soil to quicksand in a process known as liquefaction.
It was feared that beneath the crumbled rooftops and twisted rebar, a vast number of bodies remain entombed.
In Balaroa, a large government housing complex was also subsumed by mud and rescuers have struggled to extract bodies from the tangled mess in the aftermath of the disaster.
Hopes of finding survivors have all but faded, as authorities moved closer to calling off the search for the dead and declare the devastated areas as mass graves.
"This is Day 10. It would be a miracle to actually find someone still alive," Muhammad Syaugi, the head of Indonesia''s search and rescue agency told AFP.
3 Oct. 2018
International efforts to help survivors of Indonesia''s devastating earthquake and tsunami gathered pace on Thursday as concern grew for hundreds of thousands with little food and water, six days after disaster struck.
Desperate residents on the west coast of Sulawesi island were scavenging for food in farms and orchards as the government struggled to overcome shortages of water, food, shelter and fuel in a disaster zone with no power and degraded communications.
The official death toll from the 7.5 magnitude quake has risen to 1,407, many killed by tsunami waves it triggered. Officials say the toll will rise.
According to the UN''s humanitarian office almost 200,000 people need urgent help, among them tens of thousands of children, with an estimated 66,000 homes destroyed or damaged by the 7.5-magnitude quake and the tsunami it spawned. Up to 1.5 million people have been impacted.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that across Donggala alone, some 310,000 people have been affected by the disaster.
Survivors are battling thirst and hunger, with food and clean water in short supply, and local hospitals are overwhelmed by the number of injured.
Residents in the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged city of Palu are facing a shortage of necessities such as food, water and petrol, local authorities reported. Desperation on the ground continues to mount as aid is slow to reach the community four days after the disaster, hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
UN Resident Coordinator in Indonesia Anita Nirody said there was an urgent need for food, clean water, shelter, medical care, and psychosocial support.
"Following the disaster, roads and bridges have been destroyed, communication lines are down, and landslides have left many areas inaccessible," she said in a statement. "As a result, it has been difficult to get information about the situation on the ground out, and to get aid and people in."
Many of the casualties have been in Palu, the main city in the disaster zone, where rescuers are hunting for victims in the ruins. The quake triggered tsunami waves as high as six metres that crashed into the city.
The magnitude-7.5 earthquake and following tsunami that struck the island of Sulawesi last week, has destroyed thousands of buildings and affected more than 2 million people.
International Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said aid and relief teams had reached smaller villages closer to the earthquake''s epicentre, where many people had been cut off from supplies.
"One village in Sigi … half of the buildings have been totally levelled," Mr Cochrane told news agencies. "I think as we continue to push out into those affected areas the fear is that we are going to see more and more of those kind of stories."
He said that in terms of finding survivors, there was a 72-hour window, meaning that at this stage the operation is starting to move towards recovering bodies and providing assistance to survivors.
"Our focus is very much on survivors, making sure that people who have injuries, people who are beginning to get sick because they don''t have access to clean water, basic sanitation, or access to food are helped," he said.

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Conflict and inequality shape children’s lives in Iraq
by Unicef, agencies
Conflict and inequality remain the defining features of children being raised in Iraq today, according to the first comprehensive survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in seven years.
“The data is the clearest indication yet that the most vulnerable children in Iraq are the ones that are most likely to fall behind,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.
Most poor children are not receiving any form of Government assistance, and even as the fighting has subsided, 80 per cent of all children experience violence – either at home or in school.
While 92 per cent of children are enrolled in primary school, just over half of those from poorer backgrounds complete their education. The gap widens in upper secondary school, where less than a quarter of poor children graduate, compared to three quarters of children from wealthier backgrounds.
Children’s education needs in Iraq are vast.
Half of the country’s public schools need to be rehabilitated, while one-in-three juggle multiple shifts, squeezing children’s learning time.
The five governorates with the lowest school enrollment and attendance rates are concentrated in the country’s poorest southern governorates, and the two that have borne the brunt of the last few years’ violence, Anbar and Ninawa.
Regular school attendance regularly is essential for the more than one million children who require psychosocial support to cope with the invisible wounds of war.
“The hard-won gains to end the conflict in Iraq and transition to a stable future could be lost without additional investments for all children to reach their full potential,” stressed Mr. Hawkins.
On a more positive note, Iraq has made progress on health, including maintaining high levels of assisted births and reducing newborn mortality. Babies who die in their first month of life dropped from 20 deaths per 1000 live births to 14 since the 2011survey was conducted.
But the challenges arise soon after birth when only four out of 10 of children are fully vaccinated – with mostly the poorest missing out. Moreover, half of all Iraqi households risk drinking contaminated water and less than 40 per cent of the population has access to drinking water at home, increasing the grave risk of waterborne diseases.
“As Iraq moves past the violence of the last few years and forges a new path for itself, it must prioritize the wellbeing of all children,” underscored Mr. Hawkins.
To maintain Iraq’s recent gains and protect all children, UNICEF called on the Iraq Government to invest in services that benefit children affected by conflict and poverty, and to work towards putting an end to all forms of violence against children.
“Children are the future of this country, and a growing gap between the haves and the have nots sows discord and is detrimental for children and for Iraq,” said the UNICEF Representative.
“With the right commitment and the right policies in place, the Government of Iraq can make a difference,” he concluded.

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