Swedish diplomat houses flood victims

A Swedish diplomat in Indonesia has opened up his home to victims of flooding in the capital city of Jakarta.

Ulf Samuelsson, undersecretary at the Swedish embassy, currently has around 60 of the city’s residents living in his house.

On his way home from a dinner engagement on Thursday evening Samuelsson was met by a stream of people fleeing their homes in a residential area located below his own.

“Since my house was spared it felt quite natural to ask them to come over to my place,” he told news agency TT.

More and more people soon began turning up at the door. Samuelsson sent his neighbour to stock up on noodles and water. He also pulled out all of his towels, sheets and clothes from the wardrobe.

“My beds are all being used of course. We also put in rugs, and people are sleeping in chairs and on sofas. It’s quite a big house but now it’s full.

He is not sure how many guests he has but estimates that there are around 60 people living under his roof.

“Everybody is helping out in the house. There’s actually quite a nice atmosphere. The women are cooking, while the men are out trying to rescue all they can from their houses.

“Everybody is helping with the cleaning and the laundry. It’s working quite well.

“Then we have also topped up on spices and hygiene items, such as nappies. Colleagues from the embassy, including the ambassador, Lennart Linnér, have contributed clothing and medicine.

The flooding has primarily affected Jakarta’s poor.

“The grim reality is that those who live in the worst areas are hardest hit. They live in the valleys or what used to be marshlands,” said Lennart Linnér.

On Monday morning the rains returned. Water levels, which had dropped slightly, began to rise once again and Ulf Samuelsson’s guests look like staying for a while longer.

“It’s raining on and off and it looks like it’s going to continue for another week or two. They can stay here for as long as their houses are flooded.

“I hope this can be be seen as a good example to others whose houses have been spared and that they too will help those affected.

“Indonesia is a country which major income discrepancies and a lot of people would probably hesitate before opening their homes to people in Jakarta who are less well off,” said Samuelsson.

At least 20 people are reported to have died and almost 340,000 people have lost their homes in the recent floods on the island of Java.