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Jakarta Post

Nations pledge more than US$15 million for C. Sulawesi, but Indonesia must rely on itself

  • Gemma Holliani Cahya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, October 20, 2018   /   08:09 pm
Nations pledge more than US$15 million for C. Sulawesi, but Indonesia must rely on itself A soldier walks through the fog of a disinfectant after authorities sprayed it in Petobo district, Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Wednesday morning. The measure was aimed at preventing the spread of diseases in an area badly damaged by soil liquefaction when an earthquake struck the province on Sept. 28. Thousands are believed to be buried due to the liquefaction. (The Jakarta Post/Ruslan Sangadji)

After President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo declared that ‏Indonesia would accept foreign aid to reconstruct Central Sulawesi following a strong earthquake with a subsequent tsunami and soil liquefaction, a number of countries have pledged help.

The European Union, China, South Korea, Venezuela, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, Laos and Cambodia are among the countries that have offered to send help to Indonesia after the disaster, with pledges totalling US$11.6 million, €3 million and A$500,000.

Venezuela, despite facing an ongoing economic crisis at home, has pledged the highest amount, $10 million, for Indonesia. Other countries with pledges $1 million or above are Germany (€1.5 million), South Korea ($1 million) and European Union (€1.5 million).  

The government-to-government cash aid is only allowed to be transferred to a National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) bank account.

Read also: How you can help Palu earthquake victims

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said not all pledges would be transferred in cash; the help could also come in the form of goods, such as tents, medicine, electricity generators or water treatment facilities.

He said that, by Saturday afternoon, the agency had received more than $1.5 million from Cambodia ($200,000), Thailand ($145,312), Vietnam ($100,000) and South Korea and several private institutions as well as individuals. That is only about 10 percent of the total amounts pledged.

“There are many who have pledged to help, but only a few who have realized it. Compared to our needs [in the field], the help is still not enough,” he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

A 7.4-magnitude earthquake occurred off the western coast of Donggala regency on Sept. 28 and was followed by ocean waves, with Palu, Donggala, Sigi and Parigi Moutong the worst-hit areas. The catastrophe killed at least 2,100 people and severely injured almost 5,000, while 680 people have been reported missing. More than 270,000 people have been displaced and have to stay at shelters.

Thousands more are believed to be still buried in the ground when the soil liquefaction happened in Palu and Sigi following the massive earthquake.

A preliminary assessment by the World Bank estimates that the tragedy has caused $531 million in losses.

The bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have pledged US$1 billion each in funding to support disaster recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Palu, Central Sulawesi.

Read also: World Bank, ADB commit $1b in loans each for disaster recovery

Yoedhi Swastono, the undersecretary for domestic political coordination at the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister, who coordinates foreign aid for Central Sulawesi, explained that Indonesia had yet to receive the aid from Venezuela.

“We still do not know what kind of aid Venezuela will provide,” he said.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake hit the northern tip of Sumatra and later followed by tsunami that swept Aceh and Nias Island, killing at least 168,000.

A Brookings Institution report recorded that the total estimate of damage and losses from the catastrophe was $4.45 billion. The Indonesian government received a total of $7.7 billion in pledged assistance from countries and private sector for reconstruction and development. (wit)