"When we arrived yesterday evening in Banda Aceh we found the town half destroyed."
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today started bringing medical aid to people in Aceh, Indonesia, a region devastated by Sunday's earthquake. MSF is the first international organisation to start work in the area. A team of eight people, including three nurses and two doctors, arrived in Banda Aceh and set up a clinic in a camp for displaced people.
"When we arrived yesterday evening in Banda Aceh we found the town half destroyed" says Sabine Rens, Head of Mission for MSF in Indonesia. "Three camps for displaced people have been set up in the town. As well as running a clinic, we are also providing medical support to one of the hospitals."
The population of Aceh has received no international humanitarian aid at all since the disaster struck four days ago. "Aceh is undoubtedly one of the regions most severely affected by the earthquake," says Jan Weuts, coordinator of MSF emergency response in Brussels. "The epicentre of the earthquake occurred less than 250 km away from the town of Banda Aceh, and a series of aftershocks hit less than 100 km away. It is extremely important that we get aid to affected people as quickly as possible, which means bringing in medical materials, drugs and supplies to improve water and sanitation."
The plane which brought the team to Banda Aceh yesterday had six tonnes of medical material on board. A plane chartered by MSF left Ostend, Belgium, early morning today with 32 tonnes of medical and sanitation materials, heading for Medan in north Sumatra, close to Aceh.
Today, a second plane provided by the Belgian government will carry another 22 tonnes of equipment and supplies for improving water and sanitation.
In the next 48 hours, two MSF staff will make an air assessment of the northeast part of Aceh, using a helicopter to survey the 400km stretch of land between Medan and Banda Aceh. Seven more international staff arrived in Jakarta this morning and will travel to Aceh shortly.