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Indonesian church helps natural disaster victims

Support and shelter offered to Muslim mudslide victims as well as evacuees from Bali volcano eruption

Indonesian church helps natural disaster victims

Father Martinus Sutomo, director of Caritas, Semarang Archdiocese, center, hands over packages to flood victims in central Java. (Photo supplied)

Konradus Epa, Jakarta
Indonesia

December 7, 2017

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Catholic dioceses in Indonesia are providing assistance to mostly Muslim Javanese landslide victims as well as those affected by a volcanic eruption on the Hindu Island of Bali.

Since late November, tropical cyclone Cempaka has brought floods and strong winds to Central Java, East Java and Yogyakarta.

According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, 41 people had died and dozens were missing.

Thousands of people had shifted to evacuation centers, including church buildings.

Father Martinus Sutomo, director of Caritas in Semarang Archdiocese,  Central Java, said that from Nov.29 the archdiocese had been distributing relief supplies.

This included food, clothes, blankets, toiletries, tents and medicine.

Eddy Loke, program manager of Caritas in Surabaya Diocese in East Java, said an emergency assistance post and kitchen were opened at the Francis Xavier Church in Surabaya.

This was to aid people affected by landslides and floods in Pacitan regency.

Some 500 of 4,000 evacuees in Pacitan had taken shelter in the church compound, Loke said.

Sumiyati, 37, a Muslim woman in Pacitan, who fled her home together with her husband and three children, said they felt secure in the church compound and had received a steady supply of food.

Sumiyati told ucanews.com on Dec. 5 that she could not return to her home because floodwaters were still about three meters deep.

 

Bali volcano

Even though volcanic activity of Agung volcano on Bali had decreased since its eruption on Nov.25, more than 40,000 people were still in camps, government shelters and church facilities.

The eruption spewed smoke and ashes over a radius of hundreds of kilometers.

The government had not yet lifted an official alert.

When the volcano erupted in 1963, 1,148 people died.

Tourists gather to watch Mount Agung at Amed beach in Karangasem, Bali, on Nov. 30, 2017. (Photo Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

 

Divine Word Father Yosep Wora, vicar general of the diocese of Denpasar, the capital of Bali, said Indonesian bishops and Caritas Denpasar cooperated to provide logistical assistance to evacuees.

According to the priest, hundreds remained in the compound of the St. Francis of Assisi mission station in Karangasem, Bali, about 12 kilometers from the volcano.

Carmelite Father Albert Jawa, who works at St. Francis of Assisi Church, told ucanews.com that besides providing help for those sheltering in the church, assistance was being given to people in other locations.

"We do whatever we can to help the people," Father Jawa said.

Wayan Sujana, 52, one of the Hindus staying at St. Francis of Assisi Church, thanked the Catholic Church for food and clothes given to her family.

 

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