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Quake-hit Sulawesi needs more help

JAKARTA (UCAN): People affected by the deadly magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province on September 28, killing more than 2,000 people and displacing more than 70,000 more, are still in desperate need of relief supplies.
Father Joy Derry, who heads Caritas in the Diocese of Manado, said the Church, along with other relief organisations is continuing to provide basic needs.
“Food, clothing and tents are urgent priorities,” Father Derry said on October 17, adding that most people are still living in tents because aftershocks continue to hit the area.
“They are still haunted by what happened and avoid staying in buildings,” he said.
According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, some 680 people are still listed as missing,
About 700,000 houses, 2,736 schools and 20 health-care facilities were damaged.
The government has ended the search for victims, but extended its emergency response period to October 26.
Father Derry said, the Church has assisted almost 7,000 families, using the more than US$197,000 ($1.54 million) raised by donors throughout Indonesia and from abroad.
“Many dioceses throughout the country have been fund-raising and sending the proceeds to us,” he said.
Volunteers from various regions and religious congregations were also helping.
However, more financial assistance is needed.
“After the emergency response period, we plan to continue providing assistance for trauma healing, the construction of temporary housing and economic empowerment,” Father Derry explained.
Normal daily activities are only just starting to resume.
“School activities have started, but for only two hours a day and are held in open spaces. Local markets have also reopened,” he said.
Bishop Benedictus Estephanus Rolly Untu of Manado, who visited disaster stricken areas on October 11 and 12, called on people in his diocese to provide additional help to those displaced.
“I ask all Catholics to help. Humanitarian assistance is greatly needed for this emergency,” he said.
Hasnad Hamid, a mother of four in Palu, one of the worst-effected districts, said she and her family survived the tsunami because they sensed what was coming after the quake and immediately ran to higher ground.
“Three weeks on we are still traumatised and find it difficult to do things as usual,” she said, adding, “I still remember how the quake damaged many things. My children are still scared.”

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