Devastation in Asia and Pacific recalls 2004 tsunami

06/10/2009

The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) is today launching radio and TV appeals for public funds to help those affected by the earthquakes and typhoons that struck last week.

The appeals will be delivered on the BBC by Christine Bleakley from The One Show and on ITV, Sky, Channel 4, Channel Five and other commercial broadcasters by Myleene Klass.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed or injured but millions also live in the areas immediately affected where homes have been destroyed, crops swept away and vital services wiped out.

Despite appalling conditions, aid agencies responses are now well underway in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam but remain seriously under funded.

Launching the Appeal, Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

“The nature of these disasters vividly recalls the horrors of 2004 Tsunami. Millions have seen the world they know ripped apart around them.

DEC member agencies are already responding despite the appalling conditions on the ground but we urgently need the public’s help to fund their work.

We recognise that these are difficult and uncertain times for many people in the UK too but we have no doubt that there will still be a strong desire to help.”

CASE STUDY

Aid workers found the narrow path to what used to be the village of Pulo Air in West Sumatra choked with crowds of weeping people fleeing the devastation. Crouched under the palm-thatch eaves of his home as a heavy rain started to fall a student named Indra said:

“It’s just gone. I cannot believe this. There used to be my school, now you cannot even see a single desk. My friends who I grew up with are gone.”

He could not meet the eyes of the aid worker to whom he was speaking.

Across the region, members and their partners have already provided a huge amount of practical assistance, including:

Indonesia

  • Emergency shelter for thousands of people as well as bedding, clothes, hygiene kits, baby products and kitchen kits
  • Food for thousands of people including rice, tinned fish, noodles and baby food as well as water purification tablets
  • Medical care from first aid to surgery for hundreds of injured people
  • Reunification for families separated in the chaos and safe spaces for children

Philippines

  • Rescuing 900 families
  • Food and safe drinking water
  • Emergency shelter and supplies
  • Hundreds of emergency kits for affected children- including clothes and soap
  • Support for older people with food, medical and household supplies

Vietnam

  • Help with rescue operations
  • Noodles, rice and bottled water for thousands of families
  • Torches, candles, matches, kerosene and mosquito nets for thousands of families

On 26 September Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines and it also affected the wider region, including Vietnam on the 29th. An earthquake registering 7.6 on the Richter scale struck western Sumatra on the 30th followed by a significant aftershock the next day. Typhoon Parma struck a remote area of the Philippines on 3 October causing some further deaths and extensive damage.

Anyone wanting to stay up to date with developments in the affected countries, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts can follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

Notes to editors:

  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Disasters Appeal’ and mail to ‘DEC Disasters Appeal, PO Box 999, Birmingham, B99 9AA’.
  • Donations can be made at any high street bank, and at Post Offices by quoting Freepay 1422.
  • The DEC consists of: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision.
  • The DEC criteria to launch an appeal are: The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift International humanitarian assistance. The DEC agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national Appeal. There must be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful, either because of evidence of existing public sympathy for the humanitarian situation or because there is a compelling case indicating the likelihood of significant public support should an appeal be launched.