Friday, January 14, 2005

Crisis in Aceh ~ More News and Coverage

Following are some coverage and commentary on the new restrictions introduced in Aceh, the military's continued influence in politics, the perspective of some international aid agencies, the continued mismanagement, the indication that the government of Indonesia is interested in a permanent cease fire with the rebels (GAM), urgent appeal from UCM Jakarta, and recent reports from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Again, I put them in chronological order.


Source: The Economist
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Indonesia after the Tsunami ~ and then the Politics returned

BANDA ACEH - Indonesia bore the brunt of the tsunami, suffering 100,000 of the 150,000 fatalities. The world's response has been generous, but is already causing tensions.

It seemed too good to be true--and it was. In the aftermath of December 26th's horror, Indonesia threw open the province of Aceh to foreign aid workers and journalists. Singaporean planes, American helicopters and Australian warships all entered what had been a highly restricted military zone. The Indonesian army even talked about suspending its offensive against the separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM by its Indonesian acronym). Such openness and moderation marked a break with the suspicion and secrecy of the past, and raised hopes that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia's new president, would set a fresh tone for government policy on Aceh, and on security matters more broadly.

Old habits, however, die hard. As the aid effort got under way, military spokesmen announced that GAM was attempting to steal provisions and infiltrate refugee camps. Relief workers, the army said, were not safe--although none of them had expressed any concerns. When shots were fired in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, the police immediately blamed the rebels. The army, arguing that GAM was somehow trying to take advantage of the catastrophe, delayed the truce.

Indonesia's foreign ministry has information on the country's response to the tsunami. The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the NGOs working in the area.

At first, civilian officials played down the army's concerns. Alwi Shihab, the minister in charge of the relief effort, cast doubt on stories of rebel infiltration. An agitated soldier, rather than an insurgent, turned out to be responsible for the gunfire. Meanwhile, Mr Yudhoyono asked several foreign diplomats for their advice on how to handle Aceh - a step close to treason in the eyes of Indonesia's more xenophobic generals.

In recent days, however, the government has started to toe the army's line. Earlier this week, it said foreigners would no longer be allowed to leave the cities of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh without a military escort. It also instructed all foreigners in the province to register with the authorities. In theory, these measures guarantee the safety of aid workers and prevent duplication in relief efforts. But the rebels insist that they will not disrupt the humanitarian work. Besides, unnecessary bureaucracy is a bigger obstacle to the relief effort than are duplication and the bedraggled guerrillas of GAM.

Mr Yudhoyono himself has said that he would like to see all foreign aid workers leave Aceh by the end of March. Underlings hint that some are not aid workers at all, and have come to the province with ulterior motives. The sooner foreign troops leave, the better, says Jusuf Kalla, the vice-president. Since the people of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia ina UN-sponsored referendum in 1999, many Indonesians have become convinced that outsiders are plotting to dismember their country. Donors, such as Australia, which has pledged A$1 billion ($760m) in aid, were hoping that generosity would dispel such notions (see article herein below). So far, it hasn't.

The government seems more relaxed about local helpers. Extremist Muslim outfits, such as the Islam Defenders Front and the Indonesian Mujahideen Council, have setup shop in Aceh unhindered--even with official assistance, according to some reports. In the past, such groups have recruited fighters to join in sectarian conflicts in other parts of Indonesia, or mounted vigilante attacks on businesses they deem immoral, including bars and nightclubs.

In fairness, the government's prickliness over foreign aid and its forbearance in the face of radical groups reflect local public opinion. It would be politically impossible at such a time for the authorities to turnaway volunteers on the grounds that they were too religious. By the same token, ordinary Indonesians bridle at the idea that their country, the fourth most populous in the world, needs to be rescued from abroad. The speaker of parliament, among other politicians, has been urging the government to show foreigners the door as soon as possible.

Yet many observers had hoped that Mr Yudhoyono would use the authority of his office to press for a less emotive approach. Indeed, some analysts wonder whether the president really supports the new regulations in Aceh, or has simply been outmanoeuvred by hardliners in the army. He is a former general himself, and has recruited a former commander of the military garrison in Aceh to his staff. On all sorts of issues, from the composition of his cabinet to overhauling the budget, he has proved less of a reformer than many imagined at the time of his election.

As it happens, the relief effort in Aceh also impinges on the budget. On January 12th, ministers and officials of the Paris Club, a group of 19 big donor countries, offered Indonesia and other victims of the tsunami an immediate moratorium on payments, while they consider other forms of debt relief. Since Indonesia is due to pay its sovereign creditors some $8.8 billion over the next two years, the impact could be enormous.

Indonesia has accepted the moratorium in principle. But the details are controversial. Newspapers are already giving warning that a moratorium, rather than a write-off, could aggravate the long-term debt problem, not least by affecting the country's credit rating. In 2003 a previous government spurned similar relief on the grounds that it compromised sovereignty. Mr Yudhoyono's team is struggling to plug the budget deficit and stop wasteful spending. A multi-billion-dollar windfall might encourage thereverse.

In any event, donors will want to be sure that the money freed up by the moratorium is actually spent on reconstruction in Aceh. But proper scrutiny seems unlikely, if the government's reluctance to grant foreigners unrestricted access to the province is anything to go by. For all its power, the tsunami does not seem to have changed some underlying attitudes in Indonesia's armed forces and officialdom. Only Mr Yudhoyono can do that.

Received from Joyo Indonesia News


Source: Guardian Unlimited
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Aid workers fear troop escorts may provoke rebels
By Adam Jay and agencies

There were fears today that the relief effort in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which bore the brunt of the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami, might be hampered by a demand that aid workers be accompanied by military escorts. The Indonesian army has insisted that rebel activity in the province means that most areas are out of bounds to unaccompanied foreign aid workers, but it concedes that troops able to provide an escort may be in short supply. Soldiers stationed in Aceh, where the Indonesian government has been battling separatists for three decades, were among the 106,000 who died there when the earthquake struck.

The army's demand comes despite the lack of any confirmed reports of attacks on aid convoys by rebels, who have repeatedly insisted they will not target foreigners. Some agencies said the move was more likely to turn the convoys into targets.

"We discourage such actions because it blurs the distinction between humanitarian and military efforts here," said Eileen Burke, of Save the Children. She said the charity had so far not received any escorts, and had experienced no problems in its work in Sigli, about 60 miles from the provincial capital.

One American worker with children's charity CCF insisted that putting troops on aid convoys could increase the risk of attack: "Do I think that a humanitarian mission is going to be attacked out there? I don't think so. If we are travelling with military escorts, that would probably be more likely. We are not too happy with that," he said.

An Indonesian military spokesman, Colonel Ahmad Yani Basuki, said the army only considered the areas around the provincial capital Banda Aceh and the stricken coastal town of Meulaboh safe for foreigners. "Other areas aside from that are potential trouble spots," he said.

"They are not open and anyone wishing to go there will need to coordinate with the military due to security concerns." But he warned: "We don't have enough personnel to secure everyone."

"The rebels are mobile. What is safe today may not be safe tomorrow," Col Basuki added. "For example, the rebels can steal military uniforms. If the aid workers go to an area and these foreigners say that the military are shooting them, then we will have to deal with the problems with these countries."

Bob Lowry, of the Canberra-based Strategy International think tank, said that even though the rebels have pledged not to harm aid workers, the guerrillas still pose a threat to the relief effort. "There's no guarantee they can control all of their members."

But he said the military also wanted to ensure the tsunami disaster did not give the rebels an advantage in the conflict, by using the massive international press presence in Aceh to gain sympathy and publicity.

Rebel leaders declared a ceasefire on the day of the disaster and yesterday reaffirmed their commitment to it, offering to hold peace talks with the government. The offer was welcomed by the chief social welfare minister, Alwi Shihab. "This is the moment of reconciliation, this is the moment of establishing a peaceful and prosperous Aceh," he said. "If they want to have a ceasefire, reconciliation, we're open to any reconciliation term."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005.


Source: BBC News
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Aceh ceasefire talks edge closer

Indonesia has welcomed calls by separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh to join a ceasefire.

Vice-President Yusuf Kalla said Jakarta would make an effort to get a truce.

Rebels say a temporary ceasefire is needed to allow an effective relief operation in Aceh, worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

On Thursday, Indonesia said its death toll from the earthquake and tsunami which struck on December 26 had risen to 110,229.

The country accounts for a large majority of the death toll across Indian Ocean nations, which stands at more than 158,000 people.

Calls for a truce come a day after the government imposed travel restrictions on foreign aid workers in Aceh.

The authorities say the measures are necessary because the separatists have been shooting at aid workers and attempting to kidnap them, but the denied this.

Meanwhile international aid agencies say supplies are getting through, sickness and diarrhea are being kept in check and in some areas houses are being rebuilt.

But health experts warned that up to 100,000 people in the region could die of malaria in the coming months if the authorities did not act quickly to kill mosquitoes carrying the disease.

Richard Allan, director of the Mentor Initiative, which is leading the malaria campaign in Indonesia, told AP news agency the combination of the tsunami and heavy rains was creating the largest breeding sites in the country's history.

'Terrible tragedy'
The rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) reaffirmed its commitment to the unilateral ceasefire it declared shortly after the earthquake struck on 26 December, saying the truce was unconditional and would last for an indefinite period.

For the first time, it called on the government to reciprocate.

"Of course we welcome it," Mr Kalla responded. "Indonesia will also make efforts towards it."

The US has also called for action from both sides.

"If you have such a terrible tragedy for the people, both sides should get together quickly, negotiate a settlement and get on with building Aceh," said ambassador B Lynn Pascoe.

The government said on Wednesday that foreign aid workers and journalists in the ravaged province must now log their travel plans and will be given a military escort for most journeys.

But on Thursday the military officer in charge of relief appeared to playdown the threat of attacks by GAM guerrillas.

"Wherever I go, from the east coast, west coast, there is no problem with me to conduct this operation," General Bambang Darmono told the BBC.

Closed area
Some minor skirmishes have been reported and both sides have accused the other of using the tsunami as a pretext for a renewed offensive, but the claims have not been independently verified.

Aid workers say the measures appear to be more about monitoring movement than restricting access.

Before 26 December, Aceh was under emergency rule and was closed both to aid agencies and the international media.

The Indonesian military has launched an offensive against the rebels, who are estimated to have lost more than 2,000 fighters over the past two years.

Even before the disaster, Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would make finding a peaceful resolution to the problems in Aceh one of his government's priorities.


Source: BBC News
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Aceh rebels urge ceasefire talks

Separatist rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh have called on the government to join their ceasefire.

They say a temporary truce is needed to allow an effective humanitarian relief operation in the province, worst hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

A spokesman for the rebels said they wanted to do all they could to minimise the suffering of the Acehnese people.

The call comes a day after the government imposed travel restrictions on foreign aid workers in Aceh.

The authorities say the measures are necessary because the separatists have been shooting at aid workers and attempting to kidnap them, but the rebels have denied this.

The rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM) reaffirmed its commitment to the unilateral ceasefire it declared shortly after the earthquake struck on 26 December.

In a statement, the group said the truce is unconditional and will last for an indefinite period.

And for the first time, GAM has called on the government to reciprocate so as to allow the "unfettered humanitarian assistance to reach the people ofAceh".

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says it is a clever political move by the rebels, coming a day after the government imposed restrictions on the movement of foreign aid workers around Aceh.

The rebels appear to be saying that there need be no conflict, at least for the time being, as long as the government grasps this opportunity, our correspondent adds.

The government said on Wednesday that foreign aid workers and journalists in the ravaged province must now log their travel plans and will be given a military escort for journeys outside the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and the devastated town of Meulaboh.

The government says the requirements are designed to protect foreigners against attacks by GAM guerrillas.

Some minor skirmishes have been reported and both sides have accused the other of using the tsunami as a pretext for a renewed offensive, but the claims have not been independently verified.

Correspondents do stress the pre-tsunami level of hostility has not resumed.

A UN spokesman said relief teams had not experienced any security incidents, and they were concerned the new regulations could create potential bottlenecks in aid deliveries.

Aid workers in the field have told the BBC that the measures appear to be more about monitoring movement than restricting access, but that it is too early to say how the guidelines will affect their work.

False dawns
The US has also said it wants clarification of news that Indonesia wants all foreign troops helping the relief effort to leave by the end of March.

Troops from the US, Singapore, Australia, and Japan are in Aceh. Military helicopters have enabled aid to reach remote communities on Aceh's westcoast which were worst hit by the tsunami.

The army and GAM have accused each other of breaking the temporary ceasefire. The military has also said the rebels have been stealing aid, though aid agencies have not reported any problems.

Before 26 December, Aceh was under emergency rule and was closed both to aid agencies and the international media.

The Indonesian military has launched an offensive against the rebels, who are estimated to have lost more than 2,000 fighters over the past two years.

Even before the disaster, Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would make finding a peaceful resolution to the problems in Aceh one of his government's priorities.

This could be a chance to open the door to negotiations, says our correspondent.

But there have been so many false dawns in the past, few will be overly optimistic now, she adds.


Source: Malaysia Kini Online
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Aceh - M'sian volunteers forced to bribe their way through
By Arfa'eza A. Aziz

A team of Malaysian volunteers was forced to bribe its way through a military check point at the Medan-Aceh border yesterday during its journey to deliver medicine and other supplies to the tsunami victims.

The 16-member team from Amal Foundation of Malaysia was forced to pay Rp.500,000 (approximately RM250) to the soldiers who claimed that there was a new ruling barring distribution of aid via land.

The soldiers initially demanded Rp.2 million but following appeals from the volunteers, agreed to settle for less.

"The money we have were collected from Malaysians to be given to the victims in Aceh. If we give you so much then there would be less for the people who rightfully deserve it," team leader Dr Lo'Lo' Ghazali told the soldiers.

The team was on a 15-hour journey from Medan to Aceh in four rented vehicles.

Crackdown on corruption
Upon being stopped at about 1.30am, the soldiers had demanded for a list of the team members and the permit issued by the Indonesian immigration at the Medan Airport.

However, even after the relevant documents and passports were handed over, the soldiers refused to allow the team to pass, citing the 'new ruling'. At this juncture, Lo' Lo' told the soldiers that the team had obtained a permit from the Indonesian immigration but the soldiers pointed to a copy of a directive pasted at the guard outpost.

"Read this. It states that no distribution of aid through land. I cannot allow you to go through," said one soldier.

When team members appealed, the soldier told one of the local drivers in Bahasa Indonesia that the problem could be resolved with a payment.

Meanwhile, Lo' Lo' expressed disappointment with the corrupt attitude of the army personnel, stating that they should be more symphatetic towards the tsunami victims.

"I have heard of the corrupt practices but this is the foundation's first experience. I hope the Indonesian government will make more efforts to curb such practices as this would hamper the foreign groups in helping the people of Aceh," she said.

Allegations of corruption are rife in Medan and Aceh as foreign humanitarian teams continue to pour in help in cash and kind.

No help extended
Locals met in Aceh claimed that corruption is so rampant that many of the tsunami victims have not received any kind of aid.

A group of villagers in Inderapuri, about an hour's drive from the provincial capital Banda Aceh, claimed that they have yet too receive anything.

The villagers, who are putting up with relatives, alleged that Indonesian government agencies tasked with distributing aid do not make attempts to disburse aid to those living outside of relief camps.

Sanian, in her 30s, when met at the village canal washing a pile of mud stained clothes salvaged from the flood, also complained of not receiving any help.

"If I tell you that I have not received a single thing, you would not believe me."

"But that's the truth. We heard many people from outside have given all kinds of help."

"But it's been two weeks (since the tsunami disaster on Dec 26) and I have yet to get anything," said the woman who lost her elder brother to the killer waves.

"That's why we are washing the material we salvaged from the flood as all our belongings are gone. If we sell the material maybe we can buy some food," she added.

As the Malaysian volunteers geared up to leave the village, a man ran up to the vehicles pleading thatthey return with aid.

"Please come back and help us. Tell them (the Indonesian authorities) that I have seen those unaffected (by the disaster) being given aid. Some of them are even selling the goods they received. We need help," he implored.


Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports
Date: 13 Jan 2005

Preceded commentary by Robert Jereski
Here we are two and a half weeks in and the overwhelming focus of aid has been on Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. A few sorties seem to have been made outside these areas (e.g. CWS Indonesia's delivery of 1,300 food packets to Lambaro, Sibreh and Darussalam) although the World Health Organization (WHO) now emphasized lack of adequate information from West Coast. We hear below that, on Tuesday (11/01/05) a joint team comprising UN, U.S & and Government of Indonesia (GoI) is scheduled to conduct two-day health assessment in the area. Wow! Where has the TNI been? Weren't they doing these health assessments? If so, why weren't they depended on? Should the international community know whether TNI is capable of doing such assessments when they block off the West Coast for three day periods here and there?

And with airports backed up and aprons filled with rubbish (and buffalo) in Banda Aceh and Medan and Medan's port being backed up for uncertain reasons (U.N. will carry out assessment), one wonders how the international relief organizations and the U.N. can continue to be silent about the patent incompetence and inappropriateness of TNI oversight of this relief operation. Is the U.N. coordinating with the militaries which have airlift capabilities in order to carry out its needs assessment? If not, why not?

Water and Sanitation: Banda Aceh is still a major challenge. With no water distribution system left intact and no large reservoirs, Banda Aceh is lacking basic sanitation. Report that there is critical lack of drinking water for survivors and aid workers there. This is surprising: what supplies are backing up the B.A. airport?

Indonesian Military requested (11/01/05) IOM to provide 10 power generator sets. Wow! Are iNGOs supplying the TNI with generators? What systems of accountability are there? We need these generators in the major camps, no? Or in camps like that in Samalanga, North Aceh, midway between Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe, where as of four days ago, there were 30,000 refugees in makeshift shelters, even sleeping in the open. They have received no foreign aid whatsoever. The port of Krueng Geukueh is only 60 km away.

Child Protection: UNICEF is working to develop policy whereby only unaccompanied children should be placed in institutes, with separated children remaining with the families caring for them now.

Security: foreign aid agencies wishing to travel outside the main towns (Banda Aceh and Meulaboh) would need to give prior notice to the Government for the Government to ensure the security of foreign personnel. Also military escorts are being insisted on. GoI is supposed to clarify this new policy today. But we know now that in GAM controlled areas, the GoI will have to let humanitarian relief occur without facilitating penetration of TNI. That's just basic protocol of iNGO's doing humanitarian relief (as outlined in various iNGO codes and as indicated from emerging international humanitarian law).

Livelihood: Mercy Corps teams of workers in a cash-for-work program will move 79 repairable boats back to the shoreline and restore them for use again.

Communication and Information system: TSF (Telecom Sans Frontieres) deployed two staff to Meulaboh to establish communications hubs for NGOs and IDPs. IBM has set up an information system at Posko Jakarta (in the Vice President's office) and will soon set up a similar system in Banda Aceh.

OCHA Situation Report Update No. 17
Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Aceh) and North Sumatra

This report is developed by the UN OCHA Office in Indonesia and based on information provided by the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team in Aceh, Department of Social Affairs, Department of Health, Bakornas (National Coordination Board for Disaster Management), donor countries, the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC), United Nations (UN) agencies, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the media.


The latest information from the Department of Social Affairs (12-01-05) reported that the number of victims in Aceh and North Sumatra stands at 106,523 persons. 12,047 persons are reportedly missing and 694,760 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are living in the temporary shelters and camps.

  1. Health: Health remains a main concern in Aceh and North Sumatra. Medicines requested by a Church Word Service (CWS) medical team working in Banda Aceh were delivered (11/01/05) from Medan to Banda Aceh. CWS Medical and Psychosocial Mental Health team reported that IDPs have been traumatized by the disaster with obvious symptoms such as lack of appetite, nightmares, hyperventilation and psychosomatic symptoms. Two of CWS psychologists are already providing psychosocial support for survivors. SurfAid International has procured 1,000 measles vaccinations, vitamin A, needles, iron supplements, 7,000 tetanus shots and 2,000 mosquito nets for the roll out of SurfAid's medical, immunization and malaria prevention response in Nias Island-North Sumatra. World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized lack of adequate information from West Coast. On Tuesday (11/01/05) joint team comprising UN, U.S & and Government of Indonesia (GoI) scheduled to conduct two-day health assessment in the area. Zainal Abidin hospital in Banda Aceh has re-opened with the ER, Adult Care and Child Care sections already functioning and staffed by the provincial Health Office and volunteers. Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Alwi Shihab, asked UN/WHO and INGOs working in the health sector to assist in re-starting the operation of Malahayati Hospital in Banda Aceh.
  2. Water and Sanitation: WHO reports that Provision of drinking water in Banda Aceh is still a major challenge. With no water distribution system left intact and no large reservoirs, water needs to be distributed from centralized points (preferably located adjacent to displaced persons centres). This will require large-scale production, large capacity containers at watering points (bladders) and smaller (5 gallon) containers for people to carry water. Banda Aceh is lacking basic sanitation, which contributes to the risks of promoting mosquito breeding. Expanses of water and large quantities of debris are slathered around the city. There are also currently no resources available to tackle breeding sites or to set up effective vector controls.
  3. Child Protection: Save the Children is travelling from camp to camp in Aceh province identifying children who have been separated from their families as a result of the devastating tsunami. UNDAC reported that The Department of Social Affairs has so far identified 1,600 separated children and unaccompanied children in the larger IDP settlements in Banda Aceh. Indonesian police chief issued alert to provincial police to be on the lookout for illegal adoption or trafficking of children. UNICEF is working to develop policy whereby only unaccompanied children should be placed in institutes, with separated children remaining with the families caring for them now.
  4. Food and non food items: CWS Indonesia reports that a large shipment of CWS Blankets and "Gift of the Heart" Health Kits have been sent to Banda Aceh from Jakarta. In addition, more than 1,300 food packets were distributed in the affected areas of Lambaro, Sibreh and Darussalam. CWS also emphasied (10/01/05) that situation in Banda Aceh is critical for aid efforts; there is a lack of drinking water for survivors and aid workers. CWS together with 30 volunteers from Mama Mia are distributing food aid mostly to families outside the camps.
  5. Security: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday (10/01/05) met the ambassadors of Britain, Japan, Libya, Singapore, Sweden and the US sharing views on how to resolve the separatist conflict in Aceh peacefully. The Government has announced that foreign aid agencies wishing to travel outside the main towns (Banda Aceh and Meulaboh) would need to give prior notice to the Government and, if necessary, make use of military escort. This is regarded as necessary in order for the Government to ensure the security of foreign personnel.
  6. Livelihood: Mercy Corps is working on a livelihood program in Meulaboh, a town on the West Coast of Sumatra that was 80% destroyed. Local fishing boats were washed far inland by the huge tsunami waves, and teams of workers in a cash-for-work program will move 79 repairable boats back to the shoreline and restore them for use again. Mercy Corps is also working on supplying fishing kits that will include rope, nets, and poles, among other supplies.
  7. Communication and Information system: Telkom Indonesia and Ericsson are dispatching experts and technicians to Meulaboh working on telecommunications system there; TSF (Telecom Sans Frontieres) deployed two staff to Meulaboh to establish communications hubs for NGOs and IDPs. IBM has set up an information system at Posko Jakarta (in the Vice President's office) and will soon set up a similar system in Banda Aceh.
  8. Logistics: please visit the UNJLC website: for logistic information

  1. The Government of Indonesia issued a decree limiting the landing of aircrafts type IL76 and Antonov in Medan Polonia Airport due to congestion.
  2. A full update on the national response is expected tomorrow.

  1. The Government of Belgium sent (11/01/05) a fast intervention team consisting of over 100 aid workers to the Indonesia and Sri lanka. The"B-fast" consists of the military and volunteer forces of Belgium.
  2. The Government of Switzerland decided to strengthen their contribution to Indonesia, the government has dispatched three helicopters which will be used for medical evacuation and to airlift supplies to inaccessible areas.
  3. The Government of Zimbabwe planned to raise at least 3,2 million dollars in aid for Indonesia.
  4. The Government of France is prepared to offer Indonesia a debt relief in the amount of 130 million euros (USD 171 million) this year as part of a debt repayment freeze for countries affected by last month's Indian Ocean tsunami.
  5. The Government of Turkey decided to increase its aid to tsunami affected victim in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, two military transport planes would leave next week delivering relief aid such as medical supplies, foodstuffs and water purification equipment worth some USD 500,000.
  6. The Ambassador of 17 Arab countries met with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Tuesday (11/01/05) convening a collective pledge of long-term efforts for tsunami victims. The 17 countries are Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
  7. Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team I, posted by the Government of Japan via Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Indonesia, has completed its mission in Aceh on Tuesday (11/01/05). The team provided health service at Lapangan Bola KDC Banda Aceh from 01/01/05 to 10/01/05.
  8. Plan Indonesia has announced an allocation of USD 3 million for the relief of victims of the disaster in Aceh. The total fund will respond the issue of shelter and displacement, education, child protection, health/nutrition/water/sanitation and psychological stress for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in both Aceh and North Sumatra. On Thursday (06/01/05) Plan deployed a-6-member team to conduct need assessment in Aceh and Medan.
  9. IOM reported on Tuesday (11/01/05) that the first IOM road convoy of 50 small trucks carrying relief supplies reached the devastated West Aceh town of Meulaboh on Tuesday (11/01/05), where has been without road access since 26/12/04. Other convoy of 6-wheel trucks left Medan (09/01/05) carrying diesel fuel, clothes and tents donated by IOM along with relief aid provided by the Indonesian government and the local government of NorthSumatra. On Tuesday (11/01/05) IOM relief convoy of 11 trucks left from Jakarta to Aceh. The 11 trucks carrying relief supplies for the Indonesian Red Cross, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as IOM. Indonesian Military requested (11/01/05) IOM to provide 10 power generator sets.
  10. SurfAid International sent (11/01/05) a boat sailing to Nias Island carrying US$400 000 worth of medical supplies and a medical response team including three doctors, an ICU nurse, communications officer and programmanager/logistician. The team will be met by other SurfAid staff, including a specialist community facilitator and three Indonesian volunteer doctors who are currently in the affected region of Sirombu. More volunteer community facilitators, translators and national and foreign volunteer nurses will join the medical response team over the next few days as the team plans for emergency mobile clinics in the affected areas.

  1. The Department of Health required the following items: Trauma counseling team, mosquito nets for four districts in Nias, medical supplies particularly vaccines, sleeping mats and beds for Meulaboh Hospital, masks, corpse gloves, and boots for corpse evacuation.
  2. According to YAPPIKA, the following items are needed: Food (rice, oil, side-dish-food, baby food), clothes, personal hygiene sets, sleeping mats, blankets, medicine, fuel, cooking utensils, tents, radio SSB, masks, environmental experts, and teaching and learning supplies and team. For further requirement per location, please contact YAPPIKA at

For detailed information please contact:
Michael Elmquist
Chief, OCHA Indonesia
Tel. 62 21 314 1308
Fax. 62 21 319 00 003
Mobile 62 811 996 594

Syalomi Natalia
Emergency Response Officer
Tel. 62 21 314 1308
Fax. 62 21 319 00 003
Mobile 62 812 100 2065

Yasuko Sawada
Donor and NGO Relations Officer
Tel: 62 21 314 1308 ext. 162
Fax: 62 21 319 00 003
Mobile: 62 811 906 948


Source: The Guardian
Date: 14 Jan 2005

Aceh rebels seek talks as Jakarta's restrictions put aid in jeopardy
By Luke Harding in Banda Aceh

Indonesia's separatist rebels announced an indefinite ceasefire in the tsunami-hit province of Aceh last night and called for urgent talks with the government to ensure the "effective" delivery of humanitarian aid. The rebels said they were suspending all offensive military action and reconfirmed a truce announced on December 26, the day the tsunami struck.

The statement came after officials said they were severely restricting the movement of foreign aid workers outside Aceh's two main cities on the grounds that GAM, the rebel movement, might kidnap them.

They also insist that aid workers seek permission before travelling and go with a military escort.

Yesterday the self-styled prime minister of the Aceh government-in-exile in Sweden, Malik Mahmud, said the rebels were prepared to meet the government in Jakarta.

They were keen to agree a deal to ensure "the safe and effective delivery" of aid to the people throughout Aceh, he added.

GAM, the Free Aceh Movement, has been fighting for an independent state in the northern part of Sumatra since 1976. After the tsunami hit Indonesia - where the death toll rose yesterday by 4,000 to 110,229 - both sides made conciliatory statements.

Since then the armed forces have shot dead at least seven alleged rebels on a beach near Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, and they now appear to be tightening their grip on the region.

Locals people say that the men killed were civilians trying to collect damaged motorbikes from a tsunami-flattened fishing village.

Last night a military spokesman, Major Charles Sinaga, said he was sceptical of the latest offer from GAM, and that the threat to foreigners working was genuine.

"You don't know GAM the way we know GAM," he said. "We don't want to run the risk of having foreigners kidnapped. Our intelligence agents tell us that GAM is now re-grouping in the forest.

"Their base is very close to the main road. There are many foreigners there. In the past GAM has kidnapped wealthy businessmen to extort money from them," he added.

Before the disaster the government banned foreign journalists and independent foreign observers from visiting Aceh, which has been in a state of civil emergency since 2003, and it says it wants all foreign troops to leave the province by March.

The US, which has been running helicopter aid flights from Banda Aceh, said it was seeking clarification. The US, Britain, Japan, Australia and Pakistan have troops in Aceh.

Local officials said the troops were welcome to stay as long as they were needed.

Because the road from Banda Aceh to the west coast and the town of Meulaboh was completely destroyed by the tsunami and will take months to rebuild, helicopters and boats are the only way to reach many settlements.

Last week villagers said that the army frequently shot dead locals they suspected of being insurgents. It also prevented people travelling to find work.

"We have suffered much under the Indonesian military," a man who declined tobe named said.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


Source: The Jakarta Post Online
Date: 14 Jan 2005

Indonesia wants permanent ceasefire with rebels: VP

BANDA ACEH, Aceh (Agencies): Indonesia wants a lasting truce with separatists in tsunami-ravaged Aceh province, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said on Friday, as both sides expressed a willingness for talks to end the 28-year rebellion.

Kalla, speaking to reporters in Banda Aceh, said Jakarta wanted more than just a ceasefire while a massive international aid effort is under way in a province where more 110,000 people were killed and 700,000 left homeless.

"Ceasefire means you stop now, and fight another day. No, we're making (it) permanently," he said in brief remarks in English after Friday prayers in Aceh's provincial capital.

"It is hard to conclude but the steps towards that are now being built," he said.

"Later we will arrange to solve the conflict, smoothly, cleverly and with dignity."

The rebel prime minister-in-exile Malik Mahmud said in a statement from Stockholm on Wednesday his Free Aceh Movement, better known by its initials GAM, repeated their ceasefire offer to help efforts to rebuild the region.

"Under the present situation, this is a good chance for both sides to sit down and try to discuss a settlement to the political situation," Malik said.


Source: Socialist Worker Online
Date: 14 Jan 2005

While tsunami victims wait for help...
Indonesias war on Aceh goes on

By ALAN MAASS and DAO TRAN report on Aceh in Indonesia--the epicenter of the tsunami disaster.

Two weeks after one of the most deadly natural disasters in world history, desperate people are still waiting for help along the devastated Western coast of Aceh in Indonesia. But the Indonesian military that rules Aceh with an iron fist has other priorities.

After a week that included soldiers gunning down seven people suspected of having ties to Acehs independence movement, Indonesian authorities last weekend warned relief organizations that separatist rebels may have infiltrated refugee camps for survivors of the tsunamis. And Major Gen. Bambang Darmono announced that the government planned to station soldiers as guards at major camps--where refugees will live for much of the next year,according to United Nations officials.

The tsunami disaster hit hardest in Aceh--on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. By official counts, more than 110,000 Acehnese are dead, nearly half that many are still counted as missing, and no one knows how many more lives will be claimed by starvation and disease following in the wake of the disaster.

But Aceh has long been the victim of an unnatural disaster--at the hands of the Indonesian government, historically one of Washingtons favorite allies in the region.

Allan Nairn--a left-wing journalist and expert on Indonesia with firsthand knowledge of the brutality of the countrys military after several detentions--says that Aceh has been under martial law for several years. For the first four days after the tsunami, Nairn told Socialist Worker, they refused to allow foreign relief agencies, foreign journalists or Indonesian NGO people into Aceh to help--crucial days when many, many people were dying. Then, under intense world political pressure, they buckled and allowed them in.

But even now, the military is trying, one, to steal as much as they can of the international aid, and two, use the aid to further intensify their military control over the Acehnese.

For example, we have many reports from towns along the east coast of Aceh where the military is requiring that people produce their Merah Putih--their red and white ID card--before they can get food and supplies. This card has been required of all Acehnese during the recent martial law period.

In order to get the card, you had to go to the police, and the police had to certify that you were not an opponent of the army. Naturally, many people were terrified to go and get their Merah Putih. And those who were underground or exiled because they'd been hunted by the military of course didn't get one. So now, when they say, no Merah Putih, no food, the consequences are obvious.

After a slow start, the U.S. government claims to be doing all it can for Aceh, providing military equipment to help in the relief effort. But behind the newspaper photos of U.S. military personnel helping Acehnese children lies a more sinister relationship.

The U.S. government has a long history of support for the former military dictatorship of Gen. Suharto--including the Suharto regimes crimes in Aceh, carried out in large part to protect ExxonMobil.

Aceh is one of the worlds main producers of natural gas, and ExxonMobil runs the show. Aceh produces big profits for the U.S-based oil giant, and some of the money also ends up in the pockets of officials in Jakarta. But Acehs population remains stuck in poverty--with as many as 40 percent of Acehnese children qualifying as undernourished, by international standards.

Now, the U.S. is using the disaster as an excuse to get around restrictionson giving money to Indonesias brutal military for equipment and training.

After Suharto was driven from power in 1998, as many as 1 million people--a quarter of the population--turned out for a demonstration in Banda Aceh to demand a referendum on their future. The Indonesian government responded by renewing the occupation and clamping down on all signs of opposition in Aceh.

According to Max Lane, an Australian socialist and national convenor of Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific, the Indonesian military treats Aceh as if it was a foreign country that it has invaded, borrowing all the policies they used in East Timor. As a result of two decades of treating the Acehnese as if they were a hostile population in an occupied foreign country, the general mood among Acehnese has been increasingly to see themselves as no longer Indonesian.

Just imagine! A population that, generally speaking, enthusiastically fought for the Republic of Indonesia in 1945-49 and participated in national political life quite fully until 1965, when the dictatorship took over, has now been driven to no longer seeing themselves as Indonesians.

With tens of thousands of its soldiers in Aceh, Lane told Socialist Worker, the military could be a major source of work in the overall relief effort if they were mobilized, leaving their rifles in the barracks. But the [military] does not seem interested in this.

On the contrary, the Indonesian government seems to be doing all it can to exploit the nightmare of the tsunami disaster--to tighten its grip on a rebel province.


Source: Urban Community Mission Jakarta
Date: 14 Jan 2005

Urgent Appeal
Post Disaster in Acheh and North Sumatra

The world eyes turned to Acheh and North Sumatra on December 26, 2004 for its disaster in Tsunami and earth quake. According to Indonesia Social Affairs Department, the number of victims in Acheh and North Sumatra reached 106,523 persons. 12,047 persons are reportedly missing and 694,760 Internally Displaced Persons are living in the temporary shelter and camps. However, this number can be higher because some areas have not been reached by either government or other agencies. Indonesia government immediately called for Asia’s Summit to request aid from all over the world. USD 756 million was officially pledged by donor followed up Jakarta meeting in Paris in January 11, 2005. However, lack of coordination of the aid by Indonesia has been highlighted in the media. The restricted policy was announced on January 13, 2005 by government that all foreign troops, media, NGO and other international could only operate in Banda Acheh and should get permission outside of this capital city. The foreign organization should pull out from Acheh by the end of March. The question of how Indonesia government would reconstruct and rebuild Acheh is remaining questionable. How capable of them to handle post disaster when they are very slow to respond it in the first days.

The experience of Mitch hurricane in Honduras showed how the victims and survivors remained poor and hopeless because the aid never reached their hand. James D Wolfenson – World Bank’s President already raised his concern on the healing process for the victims of this devastation. He emphasized that the people should be involved in those process. Their participation is a hope for them to recover. The people should participate in all projects and they should decide what kind of need and development they wanted. They are the center of healing process (Koran Tempo, 10 January 2005).

Acheh has been an area of political, social conflict for the last three decades and devastating natural disaster. There is unfinished business in term of self determination issue for Achenese. The current disaster happened in the midst of civil emergency which is not lifting yet. Therefore, the unclear policy of Indonesia on this matter has came out with unwise policy of restricting the movement of foreign troops, agency and other relief aid organization to reach the Tsunami stricken area in Acheh. On the other hand, the control of government on aid and recovery in this area is much doubted. The issue of corruption has put Indonesia as one of the top corrupted countries.

Therefore we call the international community:

  1. To request an accountability and transparency from Indonesia government on aid given to Aceh and North Sumatra;

  2. To monitor closely their government in their pledges for aids and transparency in their accountability.

  3. Demand aid government to cancel the debt without any condition and not support the moratorium requested by Indonesia government.

  4. The people in Acheh and North Sumatra should be the agent of rehabilitation and reconstruction for their area.

  5. The international community should call for a review of Indonesia current policy to restrict the access of International agency to take part in relieve program. International organization should be allowed to provide assistance outside of government channels and to distribute aid directly and through local NGOs.

  6. Indonesia government should declare a cease fire and halt all military operations. These immediate steps should be followed by the demilitarization of Acheh under some form of international guarantee.

  7. The international and Indonesia civil society organization should be allow to access to the entire province with unlimited length of time and allow international monitoring and media reporting on relief efforts and human rights conditions.

Jakarta, 14 January 2004

Carla June Natan
Urban Community Mission Jakarta
Jl. Cempaka Putih Timur XI/26
Jakarta 10510
Telephone and Fax: 6221-4206924/4254910
Email: /

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