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Oxfam Tsunami Update January 4 2005

January 04, 2005

Below is an update on Oxfam's work across the affected countries: In Sri Lanka, eleven tonnes of emergency water and sanitation equipment has arrived in the east coast town of Trincomalee and is being set up to provide vital clean drinking water to 50,000 families.

In Indonesia Oxfam are trucking drinking water to homeless people around the town of Banda Aceh and expect a convoy of trucks with twenty tonnes of water equipment to arrive imminently so we can set up large scale water systems across the district.

Indonesia:

Oxfam have begun trucking clean water to people across the district of Banda Aceh. There are now reports of 90,000 people needing assistance in Banda Aceh in approx 175 settlements, ranging from 50 people to 10,000. Oxfam will be the lead agency on water and sanitation for the district of Banda Aceh. 20 tonnes of water and sanitation equipment is now traveling the 400km by road from Medan to Banda Aceh. It is scheduled to arrive in the capital today.

As soon as the equipment is delivered, Oxfam staff will have a water system operating within 48 hours. According to OCHA, coordination between different agencies on the ground in Banda Aceh is good Oxfam is using Australian army helicopters and is looking to lease it's own in order to carry out assessments, move staff and help distribute aid to cut off communities in Meulaboh on the west coast which has been utterly devastated by the tsunami. A coalition of local agencies which Oxfam supports has compiled a provisional database of numbers of displaced people. So far they estimate around two million people are in need of help.

Sri Lanka:

A plane load of plastic sheeting is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka from India today to provide people with shelter. Trucks will be ready to ship the goods as soon as they arrive in country. Oxfam will be setting up a new office in Metara which should be up and running in the next day or so. In the south, all water tanks and storage facilities have been destroyed. Oxfam is working in 7 out of 14 of the most effected areas and is providing clean water for 50,000 families on the east coast.

Access is still problematic though the heavy rains have eased off in Batticaloa and Killinochchi and we are able to reach cut off. People are leaving their homes to shelter in schools, places of worship. People fear the return of another Tsunami. Generally, damage to roads, causeways and bridges hampering access of aid and conditions worsened by the rains.

Oxfam has bases in the far north of the island, along the east coast, and, as of this weekend, on the south coast. Local teams have distributed thousands of food packs, plastic sheeting, mats and emergency packs containing candles, sanitary napkins etc to thousands of people. Oxfam's team of around 80 people in Sri Lanka started emergency relief work as soon as the tsunami hit - in spite of the fact that some local staff were badly affected by the disaster.

India: Oxfam is working in the worst affected Tamil Nadu state where more than 6,000 people have been killed. The Government says around 400 villages along the coast have been affected by the tsunami and there are more than 300,000 people in almost 400 relief camps. Oxfam has put together a plan costing up to NZ $18.6 million to assist 50 – 60,000 people in four tsunami-hit regions.

The plan – created in co-operation with government at all levels – will both provide relief and help people get back on their feet, particularly coastal fishing communities. Initially Oxfam will assist 15,000 people in 13 villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts on the east coast. Work includes constructing latrines and solid waste disposal, giving people cash for clearing debris and reviving water sources, the construction and repair of wells, temporary shelters, new housing, emergency food packs, clothes and utensils.

Pregnant women will receive multivitamins, folic acid and iron. Volunteers will be trained in hygiene promotion, safe water practices and hand-pump repair. In Kanniyakumari district on the southernmost tip of India, Oxfam teams are distributing basic items such as soap, coconut oil, shoes, sanitary napkins, buckets and mugs to more than 5000 people in 6 of the 45 camps there. Engineers are starting work setting up water sanitation equipment in one of the major camps in Kalachal, also in Kanniyakumari district.

ENDS

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