Refugee communities in Indonesia pitch in to help survivors of Sulawesi quake and tsunami

Refugees are joining hand-in-hand with everyone who is opening their hearts to help Indonesians affected by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi on 28 September.

Afghan refugees in Makassar donate food and clothing for survivors of the Central Sulawesi disaster. © Courtesy of Refugee Photography

“There is no need to be rich to help people,” explained one refugee joining the cause to help. These words pretty much illustrate the humanitarian generosity of refugees who have  collected donations to help respond to this tragic natural disaster.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that as of 21 October 2018, 2,256 people were killed, 4,612 were severely injured, 223,751 were displaced and 1,309 were missing as a result of the disasters that struck the regions of Palu, Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong in Central Sulawesi.

Like many others who have responded with help, the disasters have touched the heart of refugees, who themselves faced persecution and hardships that forced them from their home countries to find safety in Indonesia.  A group of Somali refugees living in Makassar, for instance, collected money to buy milk, biscuits, sarongs, caps and clothes. They handed over the donations to the Makassar Police post that has been collecting donations to be sent to survivors in Palu and Donggala.

“Our money for this donation is not much, but we’re sincere in helping our brothers and sisters in Palu,” said Hakim*, a Somali refugee. “We just follow our tradition to help our brothers and sister for love,” he added.

Somali refugees with local police officers load food and clothing to be transported to Palu. © Somali refugee community

The donation, Hakim said, is a way to express their gratitude to the Indonesian Government and Indonesians people and communities, who have been very kind in accepting those who seek asylum. “It’s time for us to give something to Indonesia to express our gratitude for being accepted here. Indonesian people are very kind to refugees,” Hakim went on.

Afghan refugees in Makassar have also lent a hand of succour to earthquake and tsunami survivors. They raised donations from Afghan refugees in all accommodations across the city to buy rice, diapers, milk, cooking oil, clothes, and some necessities for women. Some of the items were donated through the “Bosowa Donation for Palu” post in Makassar, while others were directly handed over to the survivors, who were evacuated from Palu to Makassar.

“We provide this donation as a form of our solidarity to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu. We are all brothers [and sisters]. Besides we also feel that Indonesia is our second home,” said Arga, a refugee.

Thousands of families have lost their homes or sought refuge in safer areas. The Indonesian Government in a public statement welcomed aid to respond to the disaster relief efforts, saying that it urgently needs tents, medicine, electric generators and water treatment facilities.

Afghan refugees in Makassar donate food and clothing for survivors of the Central Sulawesi disaster. © Courtesy of Refugee Photography

*Real names of refugees in this article were not used