MSF aid operations in the tsunami zone
6 January 2005
Indonesia 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 relief and medical supplies, including 10 tons of high protein biscuits, have been airlifted to the area. They are working alongside 38 Indonesian staff members to reach some of the most isolated populations. Traveling by helicopter, two MSF mobile medical teams are operating to the west of Bandah Aceh 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, water and plastic sheeting. MSF is sending only essential personnel on each flight as every person on board means 80kgs 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. A MSF mobile team operating in Cot Keung provided more than 220 medical consultations on January 3 and continued to see respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, skin diseases, and infected wounds among the patients. One mobile team conducted medical consultations in Lamno, where an estimated 11,000 people are living six displaced-persons camps, and another team discovered 3,000 displaced people in the town Lampe-Ngo. The team in Lampe-Ngo was told by local people that around 80 percent of the town's population had disappeared during the tsunami. MSF is sending a surgical team to Sigli hospital, which has been overwhelmed with wounded people. 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. Sri Lanka MSF has 49 aid workers, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and logisticians, on the ground in Sri Lanka. Charter planes with 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. MSF is operating 13 mobile clinics on the east coast that are providing an average of 1,950 consultations each day. MSF is supporting the three main hospitals in Ampara, where the Sri Lankan government estimates that more than 180,000 people have been left homeless, and plans to set up two field hospitals. The MSF teams will distribute shelter materials like blankets and plastic sheeting to 5,000 families and establish an epidemiological surveillance system as well as providing water-and-sanitation support for 60 settlements of displaced people. Another MSF team is conducting an assessment of the situation in the eastern coastal town of Batticaloa, where the United Nations estimates that more that 650 people have died and 40,000 more have been left homeless. India After conducting assessments in Chennai, the capital city of India's Tamil Nadu state, and further south to Nagapattinam district and the city of Pondicherry, MSF is focusing its operations on psychological support for the victims and establishing an epidemiological surveillance system, and is currently investigating to verify unconfirmed reports of a cholera outbreak in India. MSF has eight aid workers conducting assessments on the Andaman Islands, not far from the epicenter of the earthquake. Myanmar (Burma) Three MSF teams are focusing on assessing the situation in a few locations on the coast.