Muslim Aid Shines in Solomons

Displaying the caring face of Islam, a team of emergency relief workers from Muslim Aid is sparing no effort to help thousands of Christians in Solomon Islands, which was devastated by a tsunami last week.

Muslim Aid Shines in Solomons
Displaying the caring face of Islam, a team of emergency relief workers from Muslim Aid is sparing no effort to help thousands of Christians in Solomon Islands, which was devastated by a tsunami last week.

"There is no doubt that Islam has an image problem in some parts of the world but we're here to show that our faith tells us to help people, whatever their religious background," Akyari Hanonto told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Tuesday, April 10.

"That's why we're here, to help people in need. We're not terrorists."

Hanonto and his colleague Muhammad Farim Wiraseputra arrived in the disaster zone this week to help get supplies of clean drinking water for an estimated 7,000 people left homeless by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

At least 40 people were killed last Monday when the impoverished South Pacific country was rocked by an 8.0-magnitude earthquake, triggering the deadly giant waves.

"The Solomon Islanders have been very welcoming," said Hanonto.

"They come up to us and say, 'Oh really, you're Indonesian? You're Muslim? Thank you so much for coming.'"

Muslim Aid, founded in 1985 by 23 leading British Muslim organizations in response to continuing conflicts and disasters around the world, is raising funds for Solomon tsunami victims on its website.

The group aims to alleviate the suffering of the victims of poverty, war and natural disasters worldwide.

Lessons

With many water tanks damaged, Muslim Aid is supplying portable water purification systems and distributing water purification tablets.

"They're drinking dirty water from the streams so we are here to establish supplies of clean water for drinking," Wiraseputra said.

Once the water supply has been restored, the Muslim Aid team will turn its attention to rebuilding efforts.

The team is applying the lessons learned from Indonesian tragedies to the Solomons tsunami relief effort.

"We've seen the impact of a tsunami in Indonesia and we know it's not pretty," Wiraseputra said.

A 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed at least 220,000 people in several countries, including 170,000 in Indonesia alone.

Wiraseputra said the Solomons villagers had reacted in a similar way to those in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which was hardest hit by the tsunami.

"They run to the hills and won't come down because they're scared of another tsunami," he noted.

Wiraseputra said the logistics of getting supplies out to tiny communities scattered around the archipelago was a challenge.

"The island-hopping is making it difficult.

"The international community should be getting in more supplies."

The South Pacific country has a population of half a million living on dozens of islands 2,600 kilometers east of Australia, many of them in bamboo houses.

It lies on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" where volcanic activity and earthquakes are fairly common.

Aid continued to trickle into the Solomon Islands during the Easter weekend, with new supplies arriving from Australia, New Zealand, the French territory of New Caledonia and Japan.

Still there are remote villages waiting for urgently-needed relief.

Five boats and helicopters are being used to ferry supplies -- including water purifying tablets and equipment, rice, and tinned fish -- to outlying islands from the Western Province hub of Gizo.

"People should not think that because there's less than 50 people dead so far it's not a big disaster," insisted Wiraseputra.

"It is a big disaster and there's a lot to be done."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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