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Indonesian navy prepare packages of aid to distribute to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu at Koarmada II port in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.(Photo by: ANTARA FOTO/DIDIK SUHARTONO/VIA REUTERS)
Israeli organizations begin relief operations in Indonesia after Tsunami
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has planned to send emergency medical services and supplies to Indonesia after the Tsunami's aftermath.
Several Jewish organizations have begun providing emergency relief services to those affected by the severe earthquake and tsunami that struck the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, on Friday.

The death toll from the disaster rose sharply on Tuesday from a previously reported 844 to almost 1,350, according to Indonesia’s national disaster agency, while at least 48,000 people have lost their homes.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is sending emergency medical services, supplies – such as tarpaulins, mattresses, blankets, electrical generators, water and some food assistance – and psychosocial support through a local organization it partners with.

This group has a team on the ground in the city Palu, which bore the brunt of the tsunami, including medical personnel, a psychosocial expert, and volunteers.

Psychosocial support for families of victims, including trauma therapy, is critical in disaster zones, said Maya Kroituro, the director of planning and operations for JDC’s disaster response unit.

This service helps reunite minors who have lost parents with other members of their family, and also helps psychologically rehabilitate people who have lost close family members – which is critical in helping their physical and long-term recovery from disasters, says Kroituro.

The JDC has been working in Indonesia since the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, which killed some 227,000 people, and over the last six years has developed a psychosocial curriculum in cooperation with its local partner for disasters exactly like the one that struck Sulawesi last week.

JDC’s Indonesia representative, in cooperation with its global disaster response team, is also engaging in needs assessments and working with local organizations to help ensure best practices among responders to protect vulnerable groups, including women, children, and the elderly.

“Our hearts go out once again to the people of Indonesia, who have suffered two tragic disasters in recent months and find themselves in need of immediate care and tools to better prepare themselves for future crises,” said JDC CEO David M. Schizer, referring also to the Lombok earthquake in August, which left over 550 people dead.

“As Jews around the world gather... to celebrate the conclusion of our High Holiday season, we are keenly aware of our blessings, our responsibility to repair a broken world, and the need to act now to deliver hope to those facing so much despair,” he said.

IsraAid, an Israel-based NGO, is also participating in relief operations, with a small team of approximately five workers expected to depart to Indonesia on Wednesday, despite Israel having no diplomatic relations with the majority Muslim country.

The team will distribute emergency supplies including food, water, blankets and tents, and also begin assessments for the long-term needs of the affected populations.

And the UK-based World Jewish Relief has launched an Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami Appeal and hopes to provide food, water, medical and hygiene kits, sanitation services, and shelter for those affected by the disaster.
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