Aceh: Survivors Return Search & Rescue Teams Leave
Survivors Return As UNDP Search And Rescue Teams Leave
/Aceh, Indonesia, 18 February/- After nearly two months of work, a team of 40 Indonesian Search and Rescue volunteers supported by UNDP are preparing to leave Banda Aceh.
The team, which is composed of Indonesian Search and Rescue professionals from across the archipelago, began working in Aceh on December 28^th . Using UNDP-supplied heavy moving equipment such as diggers, earth movers and dumper trucks, their work has consisted of locating and removing bodies, clearing streets and cleaning surviving houses in some of the most damaged parts of Banda Aceh.
In total in that time, they recovered and removed over 10,000 bodies, and cleared an area equivalent to ten villages.
UNDP, which does not usually work in emergency relief such as Search and Rescue, supported this group with the objective of cleaning as many houses as possible so their owners could return home. In the past few days, this has begun to happen.
“When I first came here, you could not see the road and these houses were filled with bodies,” said one worker, Andi, from Yogyakarta. “Now it is clear, and we are glad to see that people are starting to come back to their homes.”
“This is our home,” said Ibu Siri, who has just returned to her house with her two children and husband. “We are very happy to be back.”
UNDP recognizes the difficulty and danger inherent in the work of the Search and Rescue team, and would like to pay tribute to their efforts. “They have my admiration.” Said Kristanto Sinandang, Team Leader of UNDP Field Project Office in Banda Aceh. “Their solidarity and commitment are impressive. Thanks to them, some residents of the affected area are now able to return home earlier than they thought possible. But we understand that they are volunteers and have commitments at home to which they must return. We would like to thank them for their work.”
Other search and Rescue operations supported by other organizations continue to operate in Aceh.