BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei Darussalam has launched a humanitarian fund to aid victims affected by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that hit Sulawesi on September 28, which also triggered a tsunami. 

Dubbed “Tabung Kemanusiaan Bencana Sulawesi” (TKBS), the humanitarian fund will remain open for three months until January 6 of next year, said the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

As of October 8, the death toll has reached almost 2,000, with thousands others still missing and feared dead, YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin, said.

“We are saddened that more than 10,000 people have been severely injured and over 74,000 have lost their homes. The earthquake and tsunami also damaged nearly 66,000 homes,” said the minister.

Minister of Religious Affairs YB Pehin Dato Hj Awang Badaruddin (L) and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Dato Hj Aminuddin (R), co-advisors of the National Committee for the “Tabung Kemanusiaan Bencana Sulawesi” (TKBS) launching the fund’s SMS Brunei Prihatin. Photo: Wardi Wasil/The Scoop

He added that the three-month duration will allow people ample time to make donations and for parties to organise fund-raising events.

A national committee comprising of public and private stakeholders has also been established to oversee any humanitarian aid efforts that will be provided to earthquake victims.

Members of the public who wish to donate may do so through collection boxes that will be placed at banks, commercial buildings and other public spaces throughout the sultanate. Collection boxes will also be distributed in mosques and prayer halls starting this Friday.

For individuals and organisations wishing to set up their own collection boxes, a special sticker can be obtained from the TKBS Secretariat at the Administration and Finance Division of the Community Development Department (JAPEM), second floor of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Building.

Donations can be made via SMS by texting “BANTU”, followed by the amount you wish to donate (e.g. BANTU20), to 38111. This service, however, will only be open for 45 days and will end on November 22.

Alternatively, donations can be directed to the secretariat during working hours or via online banking at the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) account 00-001-01-0076007.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 191,000 people have been affected by the quake and subsequent tsunami that swept through Sulawesi, including the seaside cities of Palu and Donggola.

According to latest reports, there are still 5,000 victims still buried in deep mud in Balaroa and Petobo, two of Palu’s hardest-hit neighborhoods.