Photo Credit: Irwansyah Putra / Antara Foto / Reuters
The Anglican Church on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is preparing to respond to recovery efforts following the devastating tsunami and earthquakes that began on Friday. Providence Anglican Church is located in Manado in North Sulawesi, an area unaffected by the earthquake. It is “ready to take a lead in relief work once everything in Palu has been stabilised,” the Dean of the Gereja Anglikan Indonesia (the Anglican Church in Indonesia), Timothy Chong, told the Anglican Communion News Service.
“Palu and the affected areas have descended into lawlessness – there is looting, pilferage and highway robbery”, he said. “Vehicles [are] being stopped and goods taken away. The Indonesian military has taken over the area and trying to control the chaotic situation.
“The response to this tragic event was unlike Aceh and Lombok, as the people still respected law and order. Here in Central Sulawesi, law and order have failed, and the military has to maintain the security of the province.”
Mark Stone, a reporter with the British-based Sky News, is travelling with an aid convoy in Mamuju, West Sulawesi. He explained that the convoy had remained at a standstill for more than three hours as the aid workers were awaiting a military escort. Looters had been forcing convoys to stop so that they can steal their loads.
Deputy national police chief Ari Dono Sukmanto said that police in the affected areas initially tolerated people taking food from shops, but were now clamping down and had arrested 35 people who were taking computers and other valuables from deserted stores. “On the first and second day clearly no shops were open and people were hungry”, he said. “There were people in dire need; that’s not a problem. But after day two, the food supply started to come in, it only needed to be distributed. We are now re-enforcing the law.”
Dean Timothy Chong added: “We watched this tragedy with grieving hearts yet unable to respond and engage because of the lawlessness that had emerged. Without the chaos, aid would have been able to be dispatched faster and stability in the region could have been accelerated, but now, with the lawlessness their sufferings are prolonged.
“We can only pray that the people will come to their senses, return back to law and order, and allow the relief agencies to come to the affected areas to help them.”
Some 18 countries are deploying aid to Indonesia, including Malaysia, Australia, the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and a number of European countries, including the UK. The British warship HMS Argyll, which had been taking part in goodwill visits and drills with Pakistan and Japanese navy vessels, has been despatched to Indonesia along with a Royal Air Force transport plane which will assist with the evacuation of the island.
A report due to be published later this month by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) says that Indonesia has suffered more deaths from tsunamis than any other country. Friday’s tsunami was the sixth fatal tsunami to strike the country since the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 claimed the lives of some 226,000 people across 12 countries – the majority of them in Indonesia.
“Earthquakes and tsunamis are responsible for more deaths than extreme weather events, having claimed an estimated 747,234 lives over the last 20 years”, the report will say. It is being published on 13 October – the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
The Gereja Anglikan Indonesia is a missionary deanery of the Anglican Church of the Province of South East Asia. Yesterday its Primate, Archbishop Moon Hing, called on people to pray for the region.