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Indonesia earthquake Oxfam Media Update

Monday 29 May 2006

Indonesia earthquake Oxfam Media Update,

Oxfam's emergency teams are now supporting an estimated 20,000 people made homeless by the Yogyakarta earthquake, providing them with clean water and essential supplies. Seventy-two hours after the powerful earthquake struck central Java near Yogyakarta, Oxfam is rapidly scaling up its response. Teams have been providing clean drinking water, installing water tanks at three hospitals, distributing tarpaulins for shelter and hygiene kits to prevent outbreak of disease among crowded makeshift camps that have sprung up around hospitals and communities surrounding the area.

Despite miserable weather conditions and torrential rain, many victims are afraid to return to fragile buildings as small-scale aftershocks continue to rumble. Concerned eyes remain on Mount Merapi, the volcano overlooking Yogyakarta, with vulcanologists observing marginally increased levels of activity following several months of 'high alert'.

Oxfam has been playing a lead role in working with government, local authorities and partner organisations to coordinate disaster preparedness planning for a possible eruption, and this preparation has enabled us to respond swiftly and decisively in distributing lifesaving equipment to communities following the earthquake. Stocks and expertise are also being drawn in from Oxfam's operations in Jakarta, Aceh, West Timor and South Asia to ensure immediate needs can be met in Yogyakarta.

"As the expected influx of organisations in coming days brings much-needed aid to victims of the earthquake, it is vital that efforts are well co-ordinated to ensure appropriate aid reaches those people most in need," said Oxfam's Country Programme Manager David MacDonald. Oxfam is now consolidating initial assessments from the first two days' response, and working on an initial three-month disaster response plan which we hope to announce by mid week.

"With estimates of 150,000-200,000 people homeless following the disaster, this is not going to be a quick fix relief effort" said MacDonald. "Right now the focus continues to be on emergency help - but with a huge challenge ahead in co-ordinating the resources of agencies and governments to rebuild homes, and rebuild lives."

Oxfam New Zealand are taking donations to help the people of Yogyakarta. Donations can be made online at www.oxfam.org.nz or call toll-free

ENDS

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