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Oregonian: Mercy Corps Helps Displaced Indonesians

Indonesia, February 7, 2007

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Wade Nkrumah

The Oregonian
February, 2007

Mercy Corps' mission in Indonesia has taken another turn.

The Portland-based agency is providing emergency supplies to help more than 200,000 people displaced by flooding that has submerged huge swaths of Jakarta, the nation's capital.

The agency has had about 200 employees in the country since the December 2004 tsunami.

Susan Laarman, spokeswoman for Mercy Corps, said Tuesday that emergency supplies being provided in response to flooding include water purification packets, soap, towels and hygiene kits. The products will benefit up to 7,000 people, she said.

"Some of our staff had visited makeshift shelters where there were up to 70 people in very small square footage, people who can't return home yet," she said.

Mercy Corps provides humanitarian assistance to people whose lives have been disrupted by natural disasters or political conflict. The agency, in about 40 countries, has ongoing programs aimed at addressing poverty and other challenges through aid and assistance projects. Its worldwide staff of about 3,500 people includes 150 in the Portland office, its international headquarters.

Laarman said even with a relatively small number of deaths for such a large scale event as the Indonesia flooding, there is still tremendous need.

"For us, the aide workers, when the death toll is low and the number of people affected is high," she said, "that's a lot more work, because people need a lot more assistance."