HOTLINE - week of November 1, 2010

Tsunami- and volcano-affected people in Indonesia find help through CWS and the ACT Alliance; CWS supporting efforts of partners, should conflict erupt in south Sudan; CWS and its partners are working to arrest cholera cases in Haiti

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Baby tsunami survivor
Indonesia--A villager holds a young survivor orphaned by the tsunami that hit Muntei Baru Baru village, Mentawai islands.
Photo: REUTERS/ Disaster Management Agency, courtesy


Indonesia is dealing with two disasters: An earthquake-triggered tsunami killed more than 430 people, with the death toll rising, and volcanic eruptions have killed 38 and displaced thousands.  

The earthquake and 10-foot-high tsunami early last week stem from a fault on the west coast of Sumatra island.  The fault line for the quake is the same that caused the disastrous 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

CWS reports that aid distribution has been hampered by poor weather and logistical difficulties given the islands' isolation and geographic terrain.

“It took 13 hours to get to here from Padang by boat,” said Ikhsan Mentong, CWS team leader in West Sumatra, who arrived at the affected region on Oct. 27. “Usually it takes six hours max.”  More than 23,000 residents, out of a total population of nearly 25,000, fled their homes.

CWS is helping to meet the needs of the youngest survivors, providing baby kits of clothing, blankets and diapers, and is providing a warehouse-size tent to serve as a health center, on space provided by the Mentawai Christian Protestant Church.

Meanwhile, Mount Merapi, Indonesia's most volatile volcano, has erupted several times since Oct. 26.  The eruptions have displaced some 70,000.  

CWS partner YEU is providing medical care to burn victims and others surviving the eruption.  CWS continues to assess needs with ACT Alliance colleagues and ACT Alliance members, and remains on standby for any further response.

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Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a referendum on the future of South Sudan and its self-determination is scheduled to be held Jan. 9, 2011.  Controversies surrounding the referendum could spark new conflict in Sudan. In anticipation of possible turbulence, CWS is supporting emergency preparedness efforts of ACT Alliance members. 

A 22-year war between north and south Sudan killed more than 2 million, displaced 4 million others and destroyed infrastructure.  

Many of the 500,000 or so southerners living in northern Sudan are expected to travel to the south before the referendum, which will put a strain on existing resources. Any dispute over the voting process could lead to a return to civil war. This would come on top of ongoing humanitarian crises elsewhere in Sudan, including disease outbreaks, flooding and food shortages.

Conflict could result in massive displacement, disruption of basic services, food shortages and hunger, and could create influxes of refugees into neighboring countries.

CWS-supported efforts include preparedness training for staff of ACT Alliance members, pre-positioning of shelter and water purification supplies, and making ready assistance for up to 5,000 households.  Priority is given to households headed by women, and to groups that include young children, elderly and other vulnerable groups such as the disabled and those living with HIV/AIDS.

With CWS support, 5,000 special emergency kits will include a 2-month supply of water purification tablets; tarpaulins; mosquito nets; blankets; plastic mats; cooking pots (small and large); plates and cups; jerry cans; kitchen supplies; soap; basins for washing; and machetes.

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CWS-supported partner and ACT Alliance efforts are helping to prevent the spread of cholera in Haiti.  

Partners in the Artibonite department are assessing clean-water needs at CWS-supported agricultural cooperatives.  Participants in a CWS-supported program for people with disabilities in Port-au-Prince are learning the importance of hygiene and health techniques to prevent the spread of diseases.

"The overall feeling is that we have to provide clean water and educate people about safe water and hand-washing," says CWS Haiti Response Coordinator Aaron Tate.

CWS is providing people with information about cholera and how to respond to it if they think they are infected. Camp committees are also learning how to respond in the event that symptoms appear in the camps.

CWS is also prepared to provide CWS Hygiene Kits for distribution in areas where it and other ACT Alliance members are working.  If local markets run out of chlorine and other items, CWS is ready to work with partners in the neighboring Dominican Republic to purchase items and transport them into Haiti.

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