Catholics provide vital aid after Indonesian eruption

Thousands afraid to return home as Mount Sinaburg continues to erupt
Catholics provide vital aid after Indonesian eruption

Villagers look on as Mount Sinabung volcano spews thick volcanic ash, as seen from Beganding village in Karo, North Sumatra province, on May 19, 2017. Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity, it erupted once more in 2013 and has remained highly active since. (Photo by Ivan Damanik/AFP)

The Catholic Church in Indonesia is providing much-needed support to thousands of displaced people following the latest volcanic eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province.

Mount Sinabung, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, erupted on May 20, forcing thousands of people to flee to safer ground.

Some 2,863 people in Karo regency, North Sumatra, remain in shelters and are "in desperate need of help," said Capuchin Father Markus Manurung, director of Caritas in Medan Archdiocese.

Father Manurung has coordinated the support of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, dioceses, parishes, and Catholic institutions and individuals.

He said the Caritas has provided kitchen sets, medicine, rice and supporting logistics for the evacuees, many of whom occupy refugee camps.

"They are afraid to return to their homes because eruptions happen every day," Father Manurang said. "We will continue to help them as long as they remain displaced," he added.

Caritas is also providing education services to young people, including 50 university students and some elementary and junior high school students, to limit the disruption to their studies.

Maria Manurung, a Catholic, is thankful to the church for its charity. "I am glad my two children can attend school now because for some months they didn’t go to school," she said.

Fredy Purba and his family have also received aid from of church following the eruption. "I received rice, medicine and educational tools for my children. We want to thank the church for their help," the Protestant told, May 24.

Purba said he and other evacuees remain in  shelters as they fear eruptions will continue.

Some 500 survivors who are staying at a Karo Batak Protestant Church building also received Caritas support

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Management Agency has called on the people to be alert, particularly those living near to the rivers, and to avoid any contact with lava.

Nugroho also warned against conducting activities within a 3-kilometer radius of the 2,451-meter-high volcano.

Before 2010, Mount Sinabung had been dormant for more than 400 years. In 2014, volcanic eruptions killed 14 people, while last year seven were killed. Two people were killed on May 21 this year. 

Mount Sinabung is one of 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

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