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Indonesia faces massive loss of livelihoods

Beyond huge tsunami death toll, Indonesia faces massive loss of livelihoods – UN

Beyond the enormous loss of life, Indonesia – the country most ravaged by last month's devastating Indian Ocean tsunami – faces a massive loss of livelihoods with the destruction of about 40,000 hectares of rice paddies and 70 per cent of the fishing industry, according to latest United Nations assessments.

But fortunately, locals, the Indonesian Government, the UN and other partners have staved off a feared second wave of mortality due to hunger and disease that could have followed the giant waves, which killed at least 165,000 people in a dozen countries, more than two thirds of them in Indonesia's Aceh and Sumatra provinces.

In Aceh, emergency food distribution is now reaching about 330,000 beneficiaries, and emergency medical and relief supplies, along with hygiene and reproductive health kits, have been delivered to more than 200,000. A measles campaign has reached around 52,000 children, and school materials are flowing in, in anticipation of the reopening of schools for up to 70,000 children this week.

But the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned today that hundreds of thousands of survivors living in temporary camps face a growing risk of water-borne disease due to flooding of toilets and inadequate numbers of toilets and bathing facilities. The situation is particularly worrying in Indonesia, where in some areas of Aceh, only one in 1,000 people has access to a toilet. The agency is building emergency toilets for camps and tent schools and supplying sanitation and water kits.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also remains concerned that conditions in camps and temporary relocation centres in Indonesia remain below international standards. Together with its partners the agency is setting up a new camp in the town of Meulaboh with 170 family-sized tents, for some 1,000 displaced people.

In Sri Lanka, UNHCR is set to finish an airlift of 2,000 tents from Jordan. A further 5,500 tents are being shipped by sea to Colombo.

Meanwhile, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has begun helping to move hundreds of tons of tsunami-strewn rubble and debris from key public facilities in Banda Aceh.

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