Indonesia: JRS supports thousands displaced by volcano eruptions
26 November 2010

The entrance to Yogyakarta province where JRS Indonesia is based, Indonesia/JRS
I've had to move four times. I hope that this is the last time.
Yogyakarta, 22 November 2010 – Eruptions of the volcano Mount Merapi led to the death of approximately 260 people and caused the displacement of nearly 400,000 others.

The volcano, literally meaning 'mountain of fire', is the largest of at least 129 volcanoes in Indonesia. The evacuation radius now stands at 20km.

After the first eruption on the 26 October 2010, JRS began administering to immediate needs of 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in four affected districts (Sleman, Boyolali, Klaten, Magelang) in Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces.

However, following the sixth and largest eruption on 5 November, the initial ad hoc response began taking a more planned and coordinated form. JRS expects its emergency response programme will run for the next one or two months. JRS support will focus on meeting the food and material needs of IDPs living in inadequate housing.

Surviving with no assistance

Due to the volatile nature of the situation on the ground, many families have decided to leave the area for safer places after being moved by the authorities several times.

Members of surrounding communities have taken some IDPs into their homes. Although this provides them with housing, they are then excluded from government assistance. Unfortunately, the policy of Gunungkidul district local government is to provide assistance only to those who remain in official IDP camps, excluding those accommodated in family homes.

"I've had to move four times. I hope that this is the last time," a woman said to a JRS worker.

The woman had just arrived in Wonosari hamlet in Gunungkidul district, some 60 km from Mount Merapi. She and many others moved from their village without having received anything from government or other agencies. Fortunately, the local community welcomed them with open arms and offered what support they could. Some families even offered to share their homes.

"When they arrived here, their bodies were covered with ashes. I felt so sorry to see them. So without thinking, we agreed to accept them into our village", said the nearby local leader of Watusigar village, Gunungkidul district.

"We began raising donations from our community to support their needs during their stay in the village. However, most of us are poor, so we won't be able to accommodate them for a long time, unless others offer assistance to meet their basic needs", the local leader added.

Those living in temporary shelters are also having problems. After conducting needs analyses, JRS realised that group health is a concern in some of the camps. Also, in the rush to flee their homes, children were not able to bring schoolbooks or other school supplies.

If you wish to donate to this project, please contact JRS Indonesia Director, Adrianus Suyadi SJ.

Press Contact Information
Oliver White
+66 2 640 9590

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