January 2, 2005

Tsunami relief and logistics.

Following up on that last post from yesterday, I see this quote, from David Nabarro, head of the World Health Organization's crisis team:
"Perhaps as many as 5 million people are not able to access what they need for living. Either they cannot get water, or their sanitation is inadequate, or they cannot get food."

This article in the Chicago Tribune put the number of survivors with "serious injuries" is 500,000, and has this quote from Jan Egeland, the UN emergency aid coordinator:
"The immediate relief problem had more to do with logistics than with money. We see now as our biggest challenge not the availability of funds nor the availability of supplies that are in the pipeline, but the logistical constraints on getting it out to people."

And this quote from John Budd, a UNICEF spokesman in Jakarta:
"Getting aid into Aceh is very difficult. You can get to the Banda Aceh airport, but there are no trucks and no fuel to move it out of there." He said the airport at Medan was also receiving tons of aid, but noted that there was only one road from Medan to Banda Aceh and that it was very rough and took 12 hours to traverse.

This AP article says that rescue efforts are about to end:
Officials were pessimistic.

"There is very little chance of finding survivors after seven days," Lamsar Sipahutar, the head of Indonesia's search team. "We are about to stop the search-and-rescue operations. If you survived the earthquake, you probably were killed by tsunami."

I hope people who are concerned about aid to the survivors appreciate the importance of the military when it comes to getting relief to people:
The American military was mounting its largest operation in southern Asian since the Vietnam War, delivering supplies from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln stationed off Sumatra and sending a flotilla of Marines and water purifying equipment to Sri Lanka.

UPDATE: The NYT on the role of the U.S. military in providing aid:
While the Abraham Lincoln and four accompanying ships represented the vanguard of American emergency aid to Indonesia, American officials said seven more vessels led by the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard were steaming west from the South China Sea with more supplies and were expected to be off the coast of Sri Lanka in the coming week, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Military officials said that yet another convoy, six slower-moving ships loaded with food, water, blankets and a 500-bed portable hospital, was en route from Guam, but was not expected to reach the stricken region for about two weeks.

Capt. Rodger Welch of the Navy, representing the operations directorate of the military's Pacific Command, said late Saturday that the American relief mission likely was the largest in the region in at least 50 years. "And we are only beginning this effort," he added.

About 10,000 to 12,000 American military personnel were now involved, mostly aboard the Lincoln and Bonhomme Richard groups....

American military officials said 1,500 marines and 20 helicopters would be deployed in the next few days to clear debris and aid survivors in devastated areas of Sri Lanka. The first contingent of 200 was expected to arrive today.

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