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IP/10/1445

Brussels, 28 October 2010

The European Commission provides €1.5 million to assist survivors of the tsunami in Mentawai and the volcanic eruption in Java

Today the European Commission has allocated €1.5 million in humanitarian assistance to survivors of the tsunami in Mentawai and the volcanic eruption of Mount Merapi in Java. This envelope will help around 65,000 people in Mentawai and at least 22,000 people in Yogyakarta/Central Java. Commission's humanitarian partners will use these funds to provide water and sanitation to victims; access to primary health care and disease control; food and non-food items; emergency telecommunications, emergency shelter; psychological support; logistics and will mainstream disaster preparedness.

"I am deeply concerned about the natural disasters that have struck Indonesia and its inhabitants in the past days. Indonesia is currently addressing a multitude of emergencies, whose cumulative impact is putting local capacity under severe strain. Our funds will help to fill the response gaps in the main relief sectors. This initial emergency assistance will help alleviate the suffering of survivors. The EU has been and will continue to stand by its Indonesian partners in this time of need,

said Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The main challenge for the national and international aid agencies is reaching the Mentawai islands to provide urgent assistance and to identify further humanitarian needs caused by the tsunami. Volcano Merapi's activity has not yet ceased. In both catastrophes, victims are in urgent need of medical assistance, water and food supplies, relief items, emergency shelter and psychological support.

Background

In the late evening of 25 October 2010 a 7.7 Richter Scale (RS) magnitude earthquake struck Mentawai islands, off the western coast of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami alert. Within minutes, waves of up to 4 metres hit most of the Mentawai islands, entering 400 to 600 meters inland, and a number of aftershock earthquakes of 5.0 RS or above were registered in the hours immediately after the first quake. The earthquake has affected a large number of villages and has caused 311 confirmed casualties so far, 379 missing and 261 severely injured, according to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB). The affected population was initially estimated at 33,817 persons. However many islands have become inaccessible and the number of potentially affected people could be over 65,000.

Only a few hours later, on 26 October at 10.02 (GMT) Mount Merapi in Central Java erupted emitting searing clouds and volcanic ashes; the eruption has caused 29 confirmed casualties so far, 502 missing, according to UN sources. As a consequence, at least 45,271 people have been evacuated from Sleman district in Yogyakarta and Magelang, Boyolali and Klaten districts of Central Java, but the volcanic activity has not yet ceased.

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, ECHO, has an office in Jakarta from where its humanitarian expert is following the situation, in close contacts with local and national authorities and its humanitarian partners in the field.

In 2009, ECHO has provided €4.5 million to assist the survivors of the earthquakes in Sumatra and West Java. Since 1994, the European Commission has provided over €85 million in funds for projects which have addressed the humanitarian needs of communities affected by numerous natural disasters, including the Tsunami of 2005.

For information on Commission's humanitarian aid: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm


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