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INDONESIA: Medicine and blankets air lifted to families in remote Central Papua after devastating cold snap

About 8,000 people are in urgent need of food support in remote areas of Central Papua in eastern Indonesia, after large swathes of crops were destroyed by a combination of hailstorms, severe frost and drought linked to the global El Niño phenomenon, said Save the Children.  
05 September 2023

The aid agency is working with partners in Puncak, the district most affected by the drought, distributing much-needed blankets, cold-weather clothes and medicines to families impacted by the climate shock.  

Puncak is a mountainous area in Papua which regularly experiences low temperatures but has been colder than usual this year with more days of severe frost. As the area is extremely remote, aid can only be delivered via airlift. 

The unusual weather has contributed to the deaths of at least six people across Papua – including a baby – since June when, stable crops were severely damaged by hailstorms. The following months brought an unusual lack of rain, along with frosts, which has created food shortages in towns and villages.   

Children and their families are also finding it difficult to access clean drinking water as many natural sources have dried up due to the drought.  

The drought conditions in Papua are being linked to the global El Niño phenomenon, which started to impact Indonesia in June. Nearly half of the country is expected to see below average rainfall in September, with conditions expected to peak in coming weeks, but the impact of the delayed rainy season will be felt for longer. Rice production across the country has fallen by 1.2 million tonnes or 5% this year.  
Fadli Usman, Humanitarian Director, Save the Children Indonesia, said:  

“Thousands of children urgently need support across Papua. After the hail and drought caused crops to fail, they need food, as well as clothes and blankets to protect them against the cold weather. We have managed to reach some areas by plane, but there are still people in remote areas that need assistance. 

“Papua is already seeing the impact of El Nino, on top of the effects of the climate crisis. Children in Puncak not only need emergency help now – they need long term, sustainable solutions to protect them from the climate crisis.  

“Save the Children has teams on the ground in Papua providing immediate assistance and is continuing to work with local and national partners. The Indonesian Government is working hard to respond - but more needs to be done to help vulnerable children and their families.’   

Save the Children has been operating in Indonesia since 1976 and works across the country in humanitarian responses and programs linked to education, health and nutrition, child protection, and poverty.  In Puncak, Save the Children is working with local partners to distribute essential supplies, and is assessing the needs of children and their families on the ground in order to plan a further response. 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Mcdonald on 0478010972 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

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