Aceh quake: Singapore reaches out to victims

Earthquake victims being attended to outside a hospital in Meureudu, Pidie Jaya, in Aceh province yesterday. The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore says it has received many queries from people who want to help.
Earthquake victims being attended to outside a hospital in Meureudu, Pidie Jaya, in Aceh province yesterday. The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore says it has received many queries from people who want to help.PHOTO: REUTERS

Agencies and individuals in Singapore are making efforts to help victims of Wednesday's earthquake in Indonesia.

The 6.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Aceh province in Sumatra has left at least 102 dead, more than 750 injured and more than 11,000 displaced.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) yesterday sent two officers to Indonesia as part of a five-man Asean Emergency Response and Assessment Team, under the auspices of the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management.

The Singapore Red Cross (SRC) is committing $50,000 for relief items to support disaster response efforts.

According to an SRC report yesterday, these funds will support the search, rescue and retrieval efforts by the Indonesian Red Cross - Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI) - which is working with local government agencies to provide immediate assistance to affected people.

 
 

PMI's assistance includes blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits, food packs, and two 5,000-litre water tanks and water purification equipment, the report added.

Mercy Relief will send a two-man disaster response team to Aceh to "conduct a comprehensive assessment of the affected communities' needs" to determine how it might help them effectively.

The disaster relief agency said relief distribution operations could start as early as today.

Neither SRC nor Mercy Relief is launching a public fund-raising appeal just yet. The public can visit their websites for updates.

Mr Dwi Miftach, 53, minister counsellor at the Embassy of Indonesia in Singapore, said it has received many queries from people who want to help. The embassy has directed them to Indonesian radio and TV stations. It has also provided information on various organisations and Indonesia's Ministry of Social Affairs and National Disaster Management Agency so that people can "choose how to convey their support".

Madam Noor Lizah Nurdin, 48, who is married to the governor of Riau, is working with volunteers from Project GoodWill Aid to collect items until Dec 25 to be sent to Aceh with the help of the Indonesian Air Force.

Meanwhile, Singaporean social entrepreneur Mohamad Tahar Jumaat, 48, has been organising relief efforts through Nature For Change (NFC), an Indonesian-based charity he founded in 2014. He will join the NFC team in Indonesia today and help to transport 100 bags of rice, each 10kg, to victims in Pidie Jaya.

Said Mr Mohamad, who has also raised more than $2,000 for relief supplies: "I think everyone wants to help with humanitarian efforts, only I procrastinate less in doing it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore reaches out to victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe