» 05/30/2006, 00.00
Newborns, children, most forgotten victims of Java quake
Aid is arriving slowly: milk and clothes for child survivors are lacking. Tents available are still very few: survivors are sleeping under the trees in graveyards, along roads in makeshift shelters or in animal sheds.
Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) Children in the quake-hit areas are "victims" of aid that fails to respond to their needs. The allegation was made by survivors of the strong quake that shook the area south of Yogyakarta Indonesia's ancient royal city on 27 May. According to the Social Affairs Ministry in Jakarta, the death toll has climbed to 5,427. National and international aid teams and agencies have mobilized; they are gradually reaching stricken areas, but their efforts do not appear to suffice.
Mrs Suseno, a resident of Pesu sub-district of Wedi, Klaten said: "Children are hungry and suffering from cold and respiratory trouble." She said most food supplies and clothes were unsuitable for children. "Babies need milk, baby food and clothes to fit them," she said. Eye witnesses told of desperate children begging for food from passers-by. Right now, money is the most pressing need. A resident of Jetis, Bantul regency, shares this view: "My children need clothes; they have been wearing the same top for three days."
Tents are also lacking in quake-hit areas: latest official figures speak of 200,000 homeless people and more than 15,000 collapsed buildings in Bantul, Klaten, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Kulonprogo and Gunung Kidul. Displaced people are forced to seek shelter from the sun under trees in cemeteries. Others choose to sleep alongside main roads under makeshift "roofs" made of torn materials. Some say they have resorted to cowsheds to shelter from the rain.
Fr Drajad Soesilo, a Jesuit, arrived in Gantiwarno to deliver aid collected in his parish of Danan. "Here, the situation is desolate: Survivors are seeking to stay alive by any means, they eat whatever they find and drink rain water." Agung Nugroho, a teacher in Jakarta originally from Gantiwarno, returned home after hearing about the tragedy. "We cannot do anything else other than to welcome with open arms whatever aid comes. Daily life is very tough now, and even those who were well off before have nothing."
The anguish of survivors is fed by the state of the Merapi volcano: around 70km from the epicenter of the 27 May quake, it became more active yesterday after a few days of respite.
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