January 4, 2005
January 4, 2005 — To date, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has sent more than 60 international aid workers and 200 tons of relief materials to provide assistance to people affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami in South Asia. MSF is continuing to assess the humanitarian needs in the region, and additional aid workers and relief cargo will be deployed as needed.
On December 28, an MSF emergency team with six tons of medical supplies arrived in Aceh, Indonesia, the hardest-hit province, and set up a clinic in a camp for displaced people. Since their arrival, 19 MSF international aid workers and more than 80 tons of relief, food, and medical supplies have been airlifted to the area. They are working alongside 38 Indonesian staff members to reach some of the most isolated people.
From a base in the city Bandah Aceh, two MSF mobile medical teams are operating by helicopter to the west and another two teams are reaching east as far as Sigli, some 150 miles away. Once the staff and medical supplies are on board, the rest of the helicopter’s capacity is filled with rice. MSF is sending only essential personnel on each flight as every person on board means 175 pounds of rice cannot be taken.
“We have carried out assessments by helicopter and car and are treating people who have been stranded for days with virtually nothing,” says Ibrahim Younis, an MSF logistician in Bandah Aceh.
On January 3, MSF conducted aid operations in the villages of Lamno and Lampe-Ngo on the western coast of Aceh. Two medical teams remained on the ground to set up mobile clinics, bringing supplies and food for the people. An estimated 11,000 people are living in six displaced-persons camps in Lamno. The MSF team is providing medical consultations. Clean drinking water is desperately needed as most of the local wells have been contaminated with salt water.
An MSF mobile team reached 3,000 displaced people in Lampe-Ngo who have been forced to dry and eat rice that had been submerged by salt water during the tsunami. The team was told by local people that around 80 percent of the village’s population are unaccounted for.
In Sigli, the local hospital cannot cope with the number of wounded, many of whom need surgery. An MSF team stayed overnight to assist the hospital staff. A surgeon and anesthetist are arriving to bring additional support. MSF is sending a water-and-sanitation team and two mobile clinics to aid 14 displaced-persons camps around Sigli.
On January 3, MSF mobile teams returned to Cot Keung for a second time and provided more than 220 medical consultations. The team continued to treat patients suffering from respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, skin diseases, and infected wounds. MSF is also bringing a doctor, a nurse, and supplies to Lo’Timon to do consultations during the day.
In Bandah Aceh, MSF has provided more than 440 corpse bags to local authorities in charge of removing bodies. An MSF water-and-sanitation team has set up a five cubic meter water bladder to provide cleaning drinking water for approximately 1,700 displaced people living in a building in the city.
MSF is working with the Greenpeace ship ‘Rainbow Warrior’ and its crew of 19 to transport equipment, food, fuel, medical supplies, and MSF medical staff to Aceh. “It will also carry fuel to enable us to refuel the helicopters,” says David Curtis, MSF emergency coordinator in Jakarta.
MSF has more than 40 aid workers, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and logisticians, on the ground in Sri Lanka. They are trying to coordinate their efforts with the already strong response from local authorities and communities. For example, a local brewery has replaced its beer production with bottling water.
Charter planes with more than 120 tons of aid supplies have arrived in the capital Colombo. In addition to relief materials, the cargo contains the equipment and supplies to set up three hospitals to care for 30,000 people for a period of three months.
Heavy rains in the Ampara and Batticaloa regions, where MSF has focused its work, have severely impeded aid activities. Road and bridges in the area had already been destroyed or severely damaged by the tsunami.
MSF is operating 13 mobile clinics on the east coast. Each is providing an average of 150 medical consultations per day. MSF is supporting the three main hospitals in Ampara, where the Sri Lankan government estimates that more than 180,000 people are homeless, and plans to set up two field hospitals.
MSF teams will distribute shelter materials like tents, mosquito nets, and jerry cans to 5,000 families in Ampara and establish an epidemiological surveillance system as well as providing water-and-sanitation support for 60 settlements of displaced people.
MSF has established an outpatient clinic in Tangalla on the southern coast. Mobile teams will provide assistance to displaced people in the area. An outpatient clinic has also been opened in nearby Hambantoa
After conducting assessments in southeastern India in Chennai and Nagapattinam, MSF is focusing its operations on psychological support for the victims and establishing an epidemiological surveillance system.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)