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This year the Asia-Pacific region is going through a round of disasters. Starting with the Lombok earthquake, Kerala floods, Japan earthquake/landslides, Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines and now there is another tragedy with the 7.5 earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Latest reports says that more than 1200 people have lost lives but there will be many more. Estimates put the number of people affected at over 1.5 million. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and many thousands of people displaced. It is believed that many are still trapped in collapsed buildings while the bodies of many who died in the tsunami are still being collected and transported to makeshift facilities in the streets for identification by family members. The emergency response is being hampered by widespread power outages, lack of available machinery and fuel shortage. Roads and bridges are highly damaged, landslides have blocked roads and highways into remote areas, making it difficult to get supplies and rescue equipment in. Without enough food, water or fuel, survivors are desperate.

The New Zealand government has already announced $1.6 million to support the recovery. $1.5m for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies emergency appeal; and a further $100,000 to allow the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta to respond to other immediate needs. Additional funding to support the response efforts of New Zealand NGOs is likely.

In New Zealand we know well the impact of a disaster like this. We know too that it is going to be a long process first in the rescue stages and then in recovery. New Zealand based NGOs are supporting the emergency response.

Banzaid is a member of Asia Pacific Baptist Aid (APBAid), a fellowship of Baptist Aid agencies through the Asia Pacific region. APBAid is working with Rebana Indonesia, the aid arm of Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches.

Rebana Indonesia is coordinating with Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI) who have branch offices in south Sulawesi and have been able to get staff into the area. They will work with APBAid to help coordinate the response of Christian agencies to the disaster.

Rebana is getting people in so they have staff on the ground in Palu and Donggala to coordinate with local stakeholders for needs assessment, procurement and distribution of aid, psychosocial activities and re-assessment to arrange plan the next activities. Food and non-food items including tarpaulins for temporary shelter are most needed!

Following any disaster social support and counselling services are very important. Rebana does not have particular capacity for search and rescue but they do have resources for these social support services.

The Asia Pacific Baptist Federation has sent out a call asking for prayer and for our efforts to share and support where we can. Donations given through Banzaid will be channelled through APBAid to Rebana Indonesia.

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