Help for tsunami victims
A humanitarian relief operation organised by the Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta (ECOM), is underway in the countries hit by the disastrous Asian earthquake. ECOM is currently assessing the situation and priority needs in order to estimate the means immediately required, focusing on relief measures for India and Thailand, countries where ECOM has a long-standing commitment and employs permanent local staff. In India, via our local partner in the Diocese of Marthandam, help has been ongoing since the day the tsunami struck. 10 villages have been destroyed in the region, leaving about a thousand dead. ECOM is distributing food, clothing and medicines to more than 10,000 people, and, together with the Catholic Health Association, is providing medical aid for those in need. Further projects will be assessed within the next few hours. Help on the east coast of India is also planned in cooperation with the Order’s French Hospitaller organisation (OHFOM).
In Thailand, an ECOM team have reached the region of Phuket and started the first relief operations today, concentrating on the coastal area in the north of Phuket. As a first step, the Emergency Corps of the Order of Malta has donated 250,000 to cover initial need.
ECOM will also evaluate the feasibility of establishing operations in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Requests for information have also been sent to the Order of Malta German Emergency Corps delegation in Kenya, as the East African coast has also been struck by the wave (Somalia, Kenya).
Further planning will be made according to the assessed needs and the means which can be made available by ECOM for further help.
The earthquake and devastating tidal waves that hit South and South-East Asia in the early morning hours of 26 December 2004 have prompted a massive humanitarian relief effort. Local reports esimtate that more than 60,000 have already died, almost 30,000 are missing and more than a million have been left homeless. Most infrastructure in coastal towns and villages has collapsed, due to excessive inundation, including hospitals, telecommunications and water supplies. The epicentre in Sumatra affected regions as far east as the west coast of Somalia and as far south as the west coast of Africa.
As well as the danger of rapid spread of water-borne diseases, the most pressing issue is to provide humanitarian emergency relief to those uprooted by the disaster – to give them shelter, food, water and clothing. Relief operations throughout the region will require massive financial and logistical operations to meet even the urgent needs of the most destitute. The situation could deteriorate further if a quick response to the delivery of life-sustaining aid is not assured.