Work Starts on 132 Wasior Barracks

Work Starts on 132 Wasior Barracks
, 24 October 2010


Authorities in Papua have begun building the first batch of 132 temporary barracks for victims of the Oct. 4 flashfloods and landslides in Wasior, West Papua.

The disaster destroyed much of the town, killing 161 people and forcing thousands to flee. A further 145 people are missing and feared dead.

On Sunday, DJ Sawaki, head of the Wasior disaster command post, said the 132 barracks being built in Ramiki village near Wasior, would house 1,548 families.

“Construction began on Saturday and is expected to be finished within this month,” he said.

He said the wooden shelters would be equipped with a functioning sanitation system to minimize the risk of a cholera or other bacterial outbreak.

“The health aspect is very important for us,” Sawaki said. “We hope that once construction is complete, the barracks will prove useful for evacuees in Wasior as well as those who have left.”

An estimated 9,015 people have been left homeless by the disaster. About 2,000 are still in Wasior, while more than 4,000 are at evacuation camps in Manokwari, the provincial capital.

The rest are being housed in Nabire and Jayapura, the capital of neighboring Papua province.

Sawaki said the barracks were urgently needed as reports of infectious disease outbreaks emerged from the evacuation camps in Manokwari.

Evacuees at the camps are complaining of respiratory ailments, malaria and diarrhea, among other illnesses.

In addition, at least 900 children have not been able to go to school since the disaster.

“We’re trying to integrate them into schools in Manokwari, but because many of them are still traumatized by the incident, they’re finding it difficult to keep up in class,” Sawaki said.

“To deal with that, we’re holding special classes for them in the afternoons. We’re also considering setting up special tents to address the conjugal needs of couples at the camps, which is turning out to be a pressing issue.”

As for long-term concerns, he said authorities were considering moving Wasior to another area entirely, given its current location’s high frequency and severity of floods.

Sikia Manipau, a West Papua councilor at the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) in Jakarta, called on the government to declare the Wasior floods a national disaster, which would entitle the regional administration to greater funding.