International aid agency World Vision is providing aid and emergency relief to more than 200,000 people throughout the Asia Pacific region following the devastating natural disasters that have struck since the weekend.
The unprecedented series of earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons and floods, are affecting millions of people in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Samoa. While these disasters are stretched across the Asia-Pacific region testing international aid agencies, World Vision is well placed to cope with such emergencies with offices and considerable local staff capacity in three of these countries.
World Vision CEO, Tim Costello said World Vision expected the cost of rebuilding these stricken communities to stretch into the tens of millions of dollars and was therefore calling on the support of generous Australians.
“Global attention is firmly on our region as the world looks to Australia to play a leadership role in the recovery of our closest neighbours,” Mr Costello said.
“We’re all part of a global village, when our neighbours are under pressure Australians generously pitch in to provide whatever support they can.”
World Vision’s head of humanitarian emergencies, Graham Tardif said despite difficulty getting access to affected areas in Indonesia, World Vision had already supplied emergency aid to more than 10,000 people.
“Aid distributed by World Vision includes 15 litre containers of water, family packs containing blankets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils and soap, and specific packages for children under five,” he said. “Once local authorities have cleared the rubble, World Vision expects to extend aid to 100,000 people.”
It is estimated that the death toll from the earthquakes that hit the Padang region on Wednesday night, registering 7.6 on the Richter scale, have killed over 1100 people and affected over 500,000, with thousands more still trapped or missing.
Enda Balina from World Vision Indonesia spoke with twelve year old Indris, a student who was evacuated from his school when the initial earthquake struck.
“There were 15 students in my class. All of my classmates were able to escape from the building as our class was in the first floor. I was separated from my friends when we ran. I even left my bag and half of my sandal. When the strong tremor occurred, we were already outside. We were shaking so hard! I felt afraid. We have experienced earthquakes before, but this one was scarier! I don’t know if any of my friends died, but I heard there are some children still missing,” said Indris.
In the Philippines a clean-up has begun where almost three million people have been affected by Typhoon Ketsana which blasted 110kph winds and rain on to five provinces. The typhoon then swept across to central Vietnam, killing at least 92 and displacing thousands before moving inland and affecting regions in Cambodia and Laos.
The region now is monitoring another category two storm, Typhoon Parma, which is tracking towards the Philippines.
World Vision National Director, Elnora Avarientos said, “This new typhoon is really a great challenge since this would slow down our relief efforts for the families and communities who were left devastated by Typhoon Ketsana.”
“Families are now just starting to pick up what was left of their lives and properties. Some communities remain submerged in floodwater. Now, I’m afraid that the heavy downpour leashed by Typhoon Parma will make it a lot harder for the affected families to cope and for the relief and development agencies to respond.”
In Samoa, World Vision is also working alongside other NGOs to send aid to the region following the tsunami. It is deploying two humanitarian aid workers who will provide logistical support and health and emergency nutrition expertise.
Mr Costello said over the past three decades the number of natural disasters in Asia had risen from below 50 to approximately 200 per year.
“The rising number of natural disasters is putting increasing pressure on the ability of aid and relief agencies and local communities to prepare and respond.
“Natural disasters can wipe out decades of development gains in minutes,” he said.
Australians can donate to the Indonesian Earthquake Appeal or the Philippines Flood Appeal online at www.worldvision.com.au or by calling 13 32 40.
For interviews contact: Tara Crowe 0427 883 700 or Tamara Blackmore 0400 689 714