Children playing at a temporary shelter in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Basri Marzuki)

Unicef Seeks $26m to Assist Children Affected by Central Sulawesi, Lombok Disasters


OCTOBER 13, 2018

Nusa Dua. The United Nations children's agency said on Thursday that it needs $26.6 million to support the emergency response and early recovery of about 475,000 children affected by the disasters in Central Sulawesi and Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

"Our utmost priority at the moment is to ensure that children receive life-saving support in the form of health and water and sanitation, nutrition and child protection services," Unicef Indonesia representative, Debora Comini, said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.

She added that the next six months are "extremely crucial" to make sure that children affected by the disasters can recover well from the trauma and rebuild their lives.

Comini said the $26.6 million will help meet urgent humanitarian needs of about 1.4 million people in Central Sulawesi and in Lombok.

The official death toll from the magnitude-7.4 earthquake and tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi last month rose to 2,074 by Thursday afternoon.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) said nearly 83,000 people have been displaced, while more than 67,000 homes were destroyed and about 2,700 schools damaged by the twin disasters.

In addition, Unicef said about half a million people urgently need water and sanitation services.

The agency said several factors prior to the disaster, such as Palu's low immunization coverage at 49 percent, and Central Sulawesi's low rate of sanitation, are exacerbating the risk of disease outbreaks among children in the province.

Lombok, meanwhile, suffered a series of powerful earthquakes between late July and mid-August, which killed 564 people, injured nearly 1,600 and displaced more than 445,000 on the island.

Unicef's emergency response, which it is implementing in collaboration with the government, includes the provision of water, sanitation, health and nutrition services for the displaced. It is also establishing temporary learning spaces for children.

The agency noted the issue of separated children and those in need of psychosocial support, adding that it is making sure that women and children have access to community-based safe spaces and that they can continue registration and tracing mechanisms to reunite children with their families.

"We will continue to be there, to expand our immediate relief operations into early recovery so that children can get their lives back on track for a better future," Comini said.