UNICEF Australia launches Indonesia Tsunami Appeal amid concern for plight of unaccompanied minors

Sydney/Jakarta, 1 October 2018 – UNICEF Australia today launched its Indonesia Tsunami Appeal following more reports of death and destruction in Sulawesi, three days after the devastating tsunami that swept through Palu City, and UNICEF staff are in some of the worst hit areas making rapid assessments of the damage alongside government officials.  

“We are concerned about the safety of thousands of children because we still don’t yet know the extent of the damage and number of casualties in Donggala, a city of 225,000 people,” said Tony Stuart CEO UNICEF Australia.

With more than 800 people dead, UNICEF knows the number of separated children is going to be high – many local reports already indicate numbers of unaccompanied children as well as missing children. In response UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Social Affairs by setting up a mechanism for family tracing and reunification and supplies including recreation kits.

UNICEF is supporting the deployment of at least seven social workers from Makassar and Gowa to the affected areas to help assess needs and provide support services for separated and unaccompanied children including psychosocial services. A UNICEF consultant has started today the pre-deployment training of the social workers in Makassar and will accompany the team to affected areas tomorrow.

“We now know that there are some 17,000 internally displaced people spread over 24 sites in the directly affected areas in Sulawesi. Some families have been sleeping outside on the streets the last three nights – too fearful to return to their homes because of aftershocks or their homes have been destroyed,” said Mr Stuart, “in such circumstances we expect that more requests for financial support will be made particularly for child protection as needs become clearer over coming days.”

UNICEF is working with Indonesian authorities in assessing the impact on children. The government has confirmed as of 30 September that 832 people are dead, 580 injured and 29 missing with an additional 1.5 million potentially affected across six regencies and 85 districts. The numbers of casualties are expected to rise sharply.

Based on initial assessment with partners on the ground immediate needs include evacuation and management of injured, medical and health services including referral services, food and non-food items and emergency shelter. More than 1,000 schools are feared to be impacted, having a direct impact on around 19 per cent of the students in Central Sulawesi.

UNICEF is entirely funded by voluntary donations for this emergency and has started collecting funding for this and other emergency responses around the world. Donations to UNICEF’s emergency response in Sulawesi can be made at this link: www.unicef.org.au/tsunami

For more information contact James Nichols, 0435 206 273 or jnichols@unicef.org.au