HOTLINE - week of July 18, 2011

Thousands seek temporary shelter in wake of Indonesia's volcanic eruptions, Relentless drought in Kenya brings coordinated humanitarian response.

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Indonesian volcano
Mt. Lokon, on North Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, spewing lava and searing ashes during a July 15, 2011, eruption – one of the volcano’s multiple recent eruptions that have forced some 6,000 people living nearby to flee.
Photo: Jemmy/ Antara

Thousands seek temporary shelter in wake of Indonesia's volcanic eruptions

Three volcanoes have sent plumes of ash into the sky and forced thousands from their homes in the northern part of Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.

Some 6,000 people have been evacuated to six different government-appointed evacuation sites in Tomohon District, including schools, mosques and emergency shelters. In particular, the villages of Kinilow, Kakakasen and Kotomohon are most vulnerable to the volcanic materials. Last Thursday’s eruptions of lava and searing ash went north of Tomohon, avoiding the residential area but burning a forest near Mount Lokon.

More than 33,000 people live along the slopes of Mount Lokon, growing cloves and coffee on its fertile slopes. The eruption has badly affected their livelihood, as the hot ash has covered their farms. Local officials promised to distribute seeds to help those affected recover their farms. They will also distribute mask and medicines to people in the evacuation sites and surroundings. 

“After hearing several explosions, my family and I hurried to leave the house. We were so afraid and not ready,” said 43-year-old Delce, who is staying at a school shelter with her husband and three children.

The evacuees are staying at the shelters at night and going back to their homes during the day to bathe and to collect food, water, drinking water and other supplies. Schools have been closed while the school buildings are occupied.

BNPB, the Indonesian national agency for disaster management, has provided tents and poles, mats, blankets and tarpaulins. At each of the evacuation sites, the Health Crisis Center provides medical examination and treatment, and although there is indication that several people may have upper respiratory infections, the affected communities are not currently urged to wear masks.

The government social office is providing food and nutritional needs at all but one shelter, where the Indonesian Red Cross has opened a public kitchen. “Food and drinking water will be sufficient for two weeks,” said Agil Al Munawar, the Minister of Social Affairs. 

Each shelter has been equipped with water and sanitation facilities, but with the large number of displaced people, more are needed. Hygiene items are urgently needed for evacuees, as the BPBD is focusing on basic needs such as food and water.

Church World Service is conducting an initial assessment and identifying humanitarian needs of those affected by the Mount Lokon eruptions. CWS will coordinate its response with local BPBD personnel, humanitarian agencies and local government as well as local churches.

Another North Sulawesi volcano, Mount Soputan, erupted on July 3, 2011. Soputan and Lokon are two of the three most active volcanoes on North Sulawesi, which is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire – a horseshoe-shaped string of faults known for its volcanoes and earthquake activity.

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Relentless drought in Kenya brings coordinated humanitarian response

CWS is working with other members of the ACT Alliance to provide a three-pronged approach to emergency relief for Kenyans devastated by the ongoing drought. That aid will include food packages, water tankers to deliver water, and long-term disaster risk reduction – which will include helping pastoral communities identify alternative livelihood options.

Dan Tyler, CWS Africa regional coordinator, notes that the desperate situation in Kenya is one of many crises currently occurring throughout the world. He says it “highlights the need to support and empower communities in disaster-prone areas to find new ways to build resilience” and sustain quality of life.

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