UN, WB leaders visit quake-hit Indonesian city hinh anh 1UN Secretary General António Guterres pauses during his visit at the earthquake-devastated neighbourhood of Balaroa in Palu city. (Source: AP)

Jakarta (VNA) – Leaders of the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank (WB) on October 12 visited Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province which was stricken by earthquakes and a tsunami last month.

They included UN Secretary General António Guterres, WB CEO Kristalina Georgieva, representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

The senior officials toured Palu city, which included visits to the survivors living in shelters and the injured victims who received treatment in tents set up in Anutapura Hospital, which sustained damage after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the region on September 28.

They also visited the ruins of the Perumnas housing complex in Balaroa, one of two subdistricts along with Petobo in Palu city that were destroyed by soil liquefaction.

During the visit to Balaroa, Guterres expressed his condolences, while applauding the rapid and effective response led by the Indonesian government.

Georgieva echoed Guterres’ sentiment, saying that she admired and respected the survivors affected by the disaster as well as the Indonesian government, which remained tough in overcoming the catastrophe.

Nearly 79,000 evacuees are still living in 112 evacuation sites in the province. Some of the evacuees, whose houses were only lightly damaged, are able to return home but refuse to do so for fear of aftershocks.

Georgieva said the WB was ready to assist the government in the reconstruction of infrastructure and homes that were damaged in the disaster.

As the first phase of financial assistance, the bank has delivered 5 million USD to the Indonesian government, Georgieva said.

Kalla said during the period, the authorities will prioritise the fulfillment of logistics, medical and clean water supplies for the survivors, adding that the construction of temporary housing will follow soon and is expected to be completed in a maximum of two months.

The government will establish a task force comprising relevant institutions, including the Public Works and Housing Ministry and the local government, to handle the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, Kalla said.

Meanwhile, volunteers from Central Java have begun to build 100 temporary homes for survivors who lost their houses in the soil liquefaction in Petobo. The 20 square meter buildings will be built of light steel in areas unaffected by the liquefaction.

The natural disasters have to date left 2,073 people dead and about 5,000 others missing, and made nearly 90,000 homeless.

The same day, the WB launched a new 150 million USD fund intended to help insure vulnerable countries against natural disasters and the increasing risk of climate change-linked crises. 

The announcement follows a string of recent natural disasters across the world including record storms and a series of deadly quakes in Indonesia, where the Bank and IMF are currently meeting. 

The Global Risk Financing Facility (GRiF), set up with money from Germany and Britain, will finance the creation of disaster insurance and other risk mechanisms so funds are available immediately when crises hit. -VNA