From Camp to Camp

Midnight_at_a_refugee_camp

Wisma Nazareth- Banteng Parish, Yogyakarta, Indonesia – 05/11/10 – 16:45 West Indonesia Time.  The journey of IDPs from Boyong and Kaliurang Selatan sub-villages on the slope of Mt.Merapi that erupted in Indonesia since 26 October seems endless. This mainly caused from the fact that it is impossible to precisely analyze how the nature of the Mt.Merapi eruption this time will be. Surono, the Head of government’s Centre of Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation confirmed that the Merapi eruption this last eleven days is totally different from the ones occurred since 1872.

“I can not predict on how Merapi will erupt this time. But I can sure you that the radius of the danger area will be wider. Now it is ten kilometers. Just wait and see, its threat area will be wider”, once he said on an interview in an Indonesian national TV station. And it was so.

Almost all of the 490s IDPs refuged in YEU’s Disaster Oasis, were soundly slept comfortably on their five different large rooms of the training centre on that early morning of one o’clock of Wednesday, 3 November. Suddenly a single huge explosion from the Merapi crater followed by continuous roaring eruptions shook the earth and poured all the volcanic materials from within. Everybody wake up after all the barrack coordinators alert them to make all the preparations for evacuation. They did it calmly and were not in panic as their coordinator did their job well. Vehicles prepared were packed with IDPs, while some trucks loaded with logistics. They were heading to Pakem 3 Junior High School facilities YEU prepared already for their next refugee camp in need, about 17kms away from the crater.

As they were heading to the school facilities 6kms away down, people from villages along their way were still did not realized what happened up there. The IDPs from Disaster Oasis were the group firstly coming to the school. But then more and more people came, and finally people from another five villages were packed on that very dawn of the day. There were 639 IDPs from seven different villages including the ones responded by YEU before. This made the host village citizens were wake up and provide any helps for IDPs (see “Local Wisdom that Help”).

The whole morning of Thursday 4 November through 11:25 was a tremendous and frightening period. As if Mt.Merapi wants to do a show of force, roaring and continuous explosions occurred. Volcanic materials were thrown up straight 4.5kms high and be flown to the West and North West directions, reaching hundreds of kilometers areas. IDPs just stunned to see the phenomenon for they never seen such a type of Merapi’s explosion their whole life before.

The children survivors played and interacted with the psychosocial counselors cheerily as the rest of the day gone calm after mid day. They were enjoying the time as what Fajar and Garul, two of them, once said before (see “Fajar and Garul Stories”). And then they went to sleep soundly after spending the whole evening with their counselors and with their peers.

At about the same time, geologists, government policy makers, disaster response institutions and security agencies in the Central Merapi Disaster Response debating on the newest technological report of the mountain. Surono, the person to whom all information and policy making on Mt.Merapi lean to this last two weeks, urged that the danger area radius should be broadened to 20km within some hours from the status of 15kms.

“Huge and more dangerous explosions followed by pyroclastic flows will come to directions which I cannot predict” Surono said.

This would be a policy with huge consequences which everybody on the table realized that well. More than a hundred thousand IDPs should be evacuated around Mt.Merapi within some hours! Not only budget wise that would be tremendous, but the socio-political and security implications of the move will be risky.

But show must go on. YEU volunteers and the whole IDPs had no access to news or any information from government. But they suddenly heard the trembling of window glass. That’s enough for them to realize that Merapi was erupted bigger. Even though they were already overwhelmed from some days of lack of rest and sleep, they work quickly to inform IDP Coordinators. They told them to tell calmly the IDPs that another evacuation should be taken as soon as possible to a safer place beyond 20kms. All vehicles available mobilized, including military trucks which already instructed by their commanders to back up the transportation system.

Again on that very dawn of Thursday, 5 November 2010 just about exactly 24 hours after the first evacuation, military and civilian vehicles were mobilized to flee more than five hundred IDPs served by YEU. Along the way of their evacuation, rain of gravels and sands followed with thick ash poured. Chaotic situation were everywhere. Finally there were about 109,947 IDPs were evacuated from all sides of Mt.Merapi. 

IDPs coming under YEU’s services were heading to a Roman Catholic Parish in Banteng, about 24kms away down from the Merapi crater. YEU built already a network with them as for their third evacuation. There IDPs were refuged, and added with those coming from other villages made their numbers increase into 1.447 people. ( Prepared by Abang Rahino for Yakkum Emergency Unit )

About oaseindisasters

Oase in Disaster - Yakkum Emergency Unit This blog is official blog of Yakkum Emergency Unit Member of ACT Alliance and Member of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia. The contents of this blog covers the YEU's activities related to emergency responds activities in Indonesia. Currently, we are working in emergency respon in three different areas; to respond Wasior flash-flood affected people in Manokwari, West Papua, tsunami-Mentawai affected people in Mentawai, West Sumatera, and Merapi Volcano Eruption in Central Java and Yogyakarta. At the national level, we are coordinating within the network of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia (HFI) and at the International level we're coordinating with Global Network for Disaster Reduction and ACT Alliance. Email: yeu@yeu.or.id Follow us in twitter @yeu2001 www.yeu.or.id www.actalliance.org www.humanitarianforumindonesia.org
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One Response to From Camp to Camp

  1. Arshinta Soemarsono says:

    pak abang, thanks for well taken note and documenting the process, your talent is tremendously helpful for our continuous learning. well done pak!

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