Rainbow Warrior brings aid to tsunami survivors

Feature story - 3 January, 2005
Our ship, the Rainbow Warrior, is helping medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to get relief supplies to parts of Indonesia devastated by the Indian Ocean earthquake.

Humanitarian and medical aid organised by Medecins Sans Frontieres is being loaded onto the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior. The shipment of mainly medical supplies and food is on its way to Meulaboh on the west coast of Aceh province.

While we are not an aid organisation, MSF needs help to get supplies to areas in Aceh, Northern Sumatra. Many of the areas devastated are only accessible by boat and we have the Rainbow Warrior in the region. The Warrior and its crew of 19 will help transport food, medical supplies and MSF medical staff to the some of the worst affected areas.

"The northwest coast of Sumatra is certainly one of the areas most severely affected by the earthquake, but it has so far been logistically difficult for aid organisations to reach the region," says David Curtis, MSF emergency coordinator in Jakarta. "In order to save lives, a massive relief effort is needed. By using the Greenpeace ship to transport medical staff and supplies, we hope to reach people in remote areas that we would otherwise be unable to help. We plan to use the ship to travel along the west coast with a full package of food, medical supplies and materials such as plastic sheeting and mosquito nets on board. It will also carry fuel to enable us to refuel the helicopters. We are aiming to set up a base in the town of Meulaboh which we know has been one of the most heavily affected areas."

An MSF team - currently numbering 40 - has been working in the town of Banda Aceh since Tuesday night and is using four mobile teams to bring medical care along the coast. According to Ibrahim Younis, logistics expert with the team, "The town is about 60 percent destroyed and there are shortages of food and water in some areas. There are still corpses on the streets. There is a huge amount of work to be done in this town alone, but the situation along the northwestern coast is even worse. We have carried out assessments by helicopter and car and are treating people who have been stranded for days with virtually nothing."

The Rainbow Warrior will be used as part of a logistical set-up which also includes MSF helicopters, planes and cars. "We want to do what we can to provide help and support to bring some relief to these devastated areas. In this way, we hope to contribute to the efforts to alleviate a tragic situation," said Dr. Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

MSF relief efforts in several of the countries severely affected by the earthquake are experiencing serious logistical difficulties in bringing in aid. Airports are becoming blocked so that planes bringing supplies are unable to refuel and land. In Aceh there is an almost total lack of fuel and transport.

More:

Read updates from the Rainbow Warrior in our weblog

MSF disaster relief work in the region.

To find out how you can help visit these sites:

Oxfam

UNICEF

UNHCR

Red Cross/Red Crescent

Save the Children

Action Aid

Also on the ground is the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI).