Trafficking and sexual abuse are some of the risks faced by children, especially orphans or separated from their families, after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Indonesian island of Celebes on September 28, today alerted institutions and Indonesian organizations.
The vice president of the Indonesian Commission for the Protection of Children (KPAI), Rita Pranawati, told Efe that the children are vulnerable to being exploited during the period of emergency assistance that continues in the province of Central Celebes.
"The possibility that trafficked with children is very high," said the commissioner who this week traveled to Celebes to check the status of children separated from their families and evacuated outside Palu, the provincial capital and the most affected area for the disaster.
In Makassar, the most populous city in Celebes and where more than 10,000 evacuees headed after the earthquake, police arrested a 14-year-old boy on Tuesday for allegedly raping a survivor of the 7-year-old disaster, who was staying with relatives. also come from Palu.
"(Children) are vulnerable to sexual violence, if they do not live in the right place, we need to explain how to prevent violence," Rita said.
The vice president of KPAI, who worked on assistance programs after the tsunami that swept the province of Aceh (west) in 2004, said there were also cases of sexual violence against children after the series of earthquakes that shook Lombok between last July and August.
The prevention of these abuses also worries organizations like Save the Children, which in addition to providing food, psychological and educational assistance to the victims, offers courses for volunteers and teachers that focus on the protection of children.
The spokeswoman for the Indonesian branch of this organization in Palu, Aduma Situmorang, told Efe that this training includes measures against human trafficking and sexual violence, especially in cases of unaccompanied minors, separated from their families or street children.
Another problem faced by children, especially those under 10 years of age, is the lack of identity documents that prevent them from finding their relatives and having access to their parents' inheritance if they have died, Rita said. .
The correct choice of guardians who obtain custody of children who have been orphaned is crucial to ensure their recovery, according to the police station, which indicates that adoption "is the last resort."
Rita recalled that after the tsunami in Aceh, which claimed the lives of 167,000 people in the north of the island of Sumatra, some families took up to 8 years to get together, although she said she expected the process to take less than a year in Celebes.
Local organizations such as the one based in Palu, Sikola Mombine Institut, criticize the slowness of the Government when it comes to sharing information about evacuees who are in other cities such as Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo, or Poso, in Celebes, east of Palu.
"How are we going to know the situation if the mayor of Palu does not want to meet anyone here," the director of the NGO, Mutmainah Korona, told Efe.
The director of Child Social Rehabilitation of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Nahar, told Efe that at least 70 children are still missing after the earthquake and tsunami.
The total number of official disappeared due to the disaster is 680. However, authorities estimate that the remains of about 5,000 people could be under the rubble in the most affected areas, where the search efforts have already been completed.
The earthquake of magnitude 7.5 caused 2,103 deaths, 4,612 serious injuries and more than 67,000 houses destroyed or damaged, according to the latest official count.
Ricardo Pérez Solero