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Aid starting to flow in Indonesia as access improves

October 5, 2018: One week after the Indonesian region of Sulawesi was devastated by disaster, the delivery of aid is ramping up, but the enormous need is becoming more apparent with each new day, according to UNICEF.

The death toll from the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami has climbed to more than 1400, with thousands injured and more than 70,000 people displaced from their homes.

Electricity was restored and some shops began reopening in the city of Palu on Thursday, but the fate of many thousands of people in outlying districts remained unknown nearly a week after the disaster struck.

Communities in more remote areas have been cut off by broken roads, landslides and crippled communications, as aid begins to trickle through. The town of Donggala, which was severely damaged and is still inaccessible by road, has received deliveries of water, rice, nappies, milk, clothes and other supplies, by the Indonesian Navy.

By Thursday, the official death toll stood at 1,424, but it is widely expected to rise as most of the dead accounted for have been from Palu, while figures for remote areas are trickling in or remain unknown.

With Palu airport still not fully operational due to damage, the creation of an entry point for international assistance in Balikpapan, 345km to the west of Palu, is helping increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

Following initial assessments, UNICEF has sent a specialised team to support the response needs, and scaled up its family tracing programme in Palu.

“Children in Palu, Donggala and other affected areas in Sulawesi need urgent help. Many have lost their loved ones, homes, neighbourhoods and all things familiar in their lives. UNICEF is doing everything it can to respond to the immediate needs of children and families in this emergency,” says Amanda Bissex, UNICEF Indonesia Representative.

“We’re working with authorities to support infant and young child feeding, provide clean water through mobile water treatment, and help children recover. In addition, one of the most immediate needs is to ensure that unaccompanied and separated children are reunited with families or guardians, and UNICEF is working with the relevant authorities to support family tracing and reunification.”

Despite the full of impact of the earthquake and tsunami not yet known, it has heaped on additional need on a country that was also hit by another earthquake in Lombok several weeks ago, which left more than 400,000 displaced people in need of humanitarian support.

The New Zealand public can support affected children by donating here: http://www.unicef.org.nz/indonesia

ends

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