Jesuit says quake help has missed most devastated area

The Indonesian government, the media and rescue teams have "completely forgotten" some of the hardest-hit areas of last month's earthquake in Java, according to a Jesuit priest coordinating volunteer efforts in these areas.

Independent Catholic News reports that more 2,000 people died in the Wedi, Gantiwarno and Bayat sub-districts of Klaten regency in the earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Java on 27 May.

To date, only a few rescue workers have gone there and survivors have complained about the indifference of their co-nationals.

Fr Drajad Soesilo, a Jesuit from the parish of St Ignatius in Danan in central Java, who went to these areas as coordinator of a team of volunteers from the Compassion Group, says "the only food supplies these local residents could get during these last five days were four portions of noodles and two kilos of rice for each family."

"These three areas are among the most heavily devastated by the quake," he said. But "no government relief has arrived to these areas; the people have been completely forgotten even by their fellow citizens."

The priest said when his group of volunteers visited the areas, the displaced people greeted them warmly and showed appreciation, "however, so far, we have only managed to take a few things like biscuits, instant noodles and some rice."

Compassion Group also donated some tents, kitchen utensils, and oil lamps to the displaced people, "who are still sleeping in cemeteries, rice-fields, cow pens and chicken coops".

Fr Soesilo said: "Even the media has not paid due attention to the tragedy of these three districts, concentrating only on the ancient royal city of Yogyakarta and Bantul regency. Often, I hear talk of the 'Yogyakarta disaster', instead of the 'Yogyakarta - Klaten disaster'."

Meanwhile, the Jesuit Provincial of Indonesia, Fr Priyono Marwan, in a message to the Jesuit Social Justice Secretariat reports that the death toll has reached to more than 5,800 and "the number of the injured is even much more."

He says the entire Jesuit Province has been working closely "together in coordination with other groups serving the victims in the most hit areas of Bantul and Klaten."

Java quake: Jesuit says help has not reached most devastated area (Independent Catholic News 5/6/06)
Special Indonesia earthquake (News from the Jesuit social apostolate 2006/5)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Indonesian Province of the Society of Jesus
Society of Jesus/Social Justice
Indonesian Earthquake (Jesuit Refugee Service Australia 30/5/06)

Java quake survivors pray outside damaged churches (CathNews 5/6/06)
Caritas commences Dili humanitarian response (CathNews 2/6/06)
Caritas accepting donations for Indonesia disaster appeal (CathNews 1/6/06)
Caritas prepares response to Merapi emergency in Yogyakarta (CathNews 31/5/06)
Caritas fears volcano eruption may slow earthquake response (CathNews 30/5/06)
Caritas Australia responds to Indonesia Earthquake (CathNews 29/5/06)

6 Jun 2006