Caritas update on Indonesian earthquake activity

Caritas Internationalis in Rome said this week that continued seismic and volcanic activity in the fault-line area off the west coast of Sumatra is causing considerable uncertainty for displaced populations on the Indonesian islands of Nias, Banyak and Simeulue.

The latest earthquake was registered only last Saturday, with international scientists monitoring the area of activity with much concern.

The Caritas report said that Indonesia's Apostolic Nuncio said after a recent visit to Nias that the continuing events are making the situation worse for the people.

"Infrastructure has been badly damaged and many are living in tents next to their houses as they prefer to sleep at night in tents for fear of further earthquakes," he said. "Due to difficulties in transporting food and other relief items to the people especially in the remote areas of the island many people continue to suffer."

About 900 people were killed in a powerful earthquake which affected Nias Island on 28 March. There was considerable damage to housing and community services infrastructure and injury to local people was reported on Nias and Simeulue Islands.

For the Caritas Confederation, Catholic Relief Service or the USA staff together with Caritas Austria and Caritas Germany volunteers on Nias Island are delivering emergency food and non-food supplies and assisting the local Church personnel to provide medical services.

Relief phase assessments have been ongoing, and relief efforts are in full swing and are the current priority. On Simeulue Island where Cordaid is present and planning a long-term reconstruction programme, assistance is being given to local Diocesan staff providing medical care and shelter materials to populations affected by the recent earthquakes. Caritas Italiana is providing support to the Diocesan office at Gunung Sitole, the main town on Nias.

With earthquake activity continuing, UN agenices and NGOs are re-assessing the emergency response and longer term recovery needs of the communities. The primary need on Nias and Simeulue Islands is a longer-term commitment of additional qualified technical and management staff. UNHCR is undertaking a mapping exercise on Nias Island to determine which areas have not received much needed relief items and shelter materials.

Update on Earthquakes and Diocese of Sibolga (Caritas Internationalis 17/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Internationalis
Caritas Australia

Caritas helps distressed people of Nias (CathNews 1/4/05)

U.S. Catholics Donate $150 Million in Tsunami Aid (Zenit 15/5/05)
Thousands of tsunami survivors rehoused by CAFOD (Independent Catholic News 26/4/05)

18 May 2005