A child offers face masks to people along a haze shrouded street in Palembang, South Sumatra. (Reuters/Beawiharta)

Indonesia Red Cross Extends Haze Emergency Response


OCTOBER 29, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia Red Cross, or PMI, will extend the emergency response period in haze-affected provinces until January, officials said.

“Since the number of the people whose health have been severely affected by the haze keeps increasing, we have decided to extend the [emergency] response period to January 2016, hoping that rains will fall in February 2016,” Ginandjar Kartasasmita, the PMI's Chairman, said at the PMI's headquarter in South Jakarta, Thursday.

“This is actually the second response operation we are doing. It will be held from November to early January. The first one took place right after the haze started happening this year,” he added.

Sumarsono, the PMI's Disaster Management Chief, said that the emergency response operations will be launched in seven provinces mostly-affected by the haze: South Sumatera, Jambi, Riau, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.

The PMI will deploy numerous ambulances for evacuation, mobile clinics, blood donation units and emergency posts.

“We will distribute more masks and shelters  as well,” Sumarsono said.

Specialized medical treatment for vulnerable groups — children, expectant mothers, the elderly and the disabled — will also be provided by the PMI.

Earlier on Thursday, the PMI sent more aid to Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands including dozens of water trucks, water purifiers, ambulances, masks, air purifiers and eye drops.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent, the US Red Cross, as well as the Australia Red Cross also given a hand in the PMI's emergency response operations.

The haze crisis has continued to worsen with over 43 million people exposed to smoke from the wildfires, with over half a million cases of acute respiratory tract infections recorded. Months of drought have exacerbated the crisis.