Oxfam calls to step up response for 70,000 tsunami survivors living in barracks in Aceh

Published: 16 November 2006

Banda Aceh, Indonesia, 17 November 2006 - Oxfam is concerned that nearly two years after the tsunami about 70,000 people are still living in temporary living centers, also called barracks. With the rainy season, there are increased risks of disease outbreaks in the barracks. More needs to be done to reduce the public health risks in those barracks and ensure that people have access to water and sanitation facilities in newly built houses to encourage them to move in their new homes.

UN assessments have shown that there are a number of barracks where sanitation facilities are too few and those that exist are of poor quality. The majority of the people living in those temporary settlements are either people waiting for the completion of their houses, people who lost their land to the tsunami, or people who were landless prior to the disaster.

“The pace of reconstruction has gained speed, but we need to ensure that nobody is left behind”, said Oxfam Director, Barbara Stocking after a visit to a temporary living center in Lhok Nga, Aceh province of Indonesia. “A response is urgently needed to ensure the public health safety of the temporary living centers and to provide a housing solution for the people most in need”.

In response, Oxfam will be deploying an additional team to provide surveillance and support to those people most in need. The team will monitor the sanitation safety and public health threats in seven barracks of Aceh Besar and Banda Aceh and have the capacity to respond should the situation deteriorate. In addition, Oxfam is working with other partners, the UN and the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) to develop a Barrack Plan of Action and provide equitable assistance to the most vulnerable.

For Oxfam, the dire public health situation in the barracks represents a potential catastrophe and constitutes a humanitarian imperative. It is critical that the 70,000 people still living in temporary living centers have adequate water and sanitation services. This will require stronger coordination and commitment from the Government at all levels and the international community in Aceh to deal with the immediate public health risks in addition to finding a long-term housing solution.

A month prior to the second year commemoration of the tsunami, Oxfam GB Director Barbara Stocking is completing a three day visit of Aceh to assess some of the progress and challenges of Oxfam programme in Aceh and Nias. She started her trip with a field visit to community-based projects in Calang. She visited a temporary living center in Aceh Besar and ended her tour with a meeting with local NGOs based in Banda Aceh.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Christelle Chapoy in Banda Aceh at: +62 812 698 8064 or cchapoy@oxfam.org.uk; or
Mona Laczo in Bangkok at: +66 181 477 56 or mlaczo@oxfam.org.uk