Difficult conditions for children in \’volcano camps\’



Dewi is one of the thousands of children taking shelter in camps as Indonesia\’s Mount Merapi volcano continues to erupt.

With an estimated 47,000 displaced by the volcano including some 7,000 children, conditions are difficult.

Dewi, aged 15, fled the lethal dust clouds on the back of her brother\’s motorbike. She has been in the camp almost a week.

She says the tents are scorching hot during the day and cold at night. She has a fever. Many people fled with no bedding or extra clothes. Plan has now distributed aid to some 8,000 people, including warm blankets and sleep mats.

Families have also been given hygiene kits which include soap, towels, shampoo, sanitary napkins, a bucket and other items.

But Dewi says she is uncomfortable in the crowded camp in the Sleman district and during the day, she risks a 1 kilometre trip back to her house to wash rather than endure queues for water and latrines.

\”I have to stand in a long line for a bath,\” she said.

She also said she doesn\’t like sleeping in the mixed and over-crowded tents.

If possible, there should be a special tent for girls,\” said Dewi who wants to work with livestock when she is older.

It is the second time she has been evacuated. The last time was an eruption in 2006 and again her school is being used as a temporary shelter. She said she misses school.

\”I hope we can go back home and everything is back to normal with no more disasters,\” she said.

Young mother Lala however, has not risked returning home.

\”I do not dare to see my house because Mount Merapi still scares me,\” said Lala, 20, who lived in Kaliadem village, just 6 kilometers from Merapi\’s peak. A neighbor told Plan Lala\’s house had been covered in volcanic ash.

She fled with no clothes and is worried about her 8-month old daughter, Riri, who has a cold. She and other mothers are struggling with the sparse water supply.

But she was relieved to receive a Plan hygiene kit. \”I am happy to get this aid because I have nothing here,\” she said.

Plan\’s emergency response is expected to last at least two months.