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Note: The painting of Ambassador Andrew Young. The painting is now hung at the main lobby of Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta
 
 

Responding to the Humanitarian Emergency of Tsunami Victims

Author: Ikatan Rakyat Acheh with SEGERA
Category: Acheh Tsunami
Date: 01/09/05

Commentary

he disaster that happened in Acheh and North Sumatra and in other countries has inflicted a deep wound. The earthquake and Tsunami in Acheh, estimated to cause an enormous loss of lives, had killed more than 90,000 people. The death toll is expected to increase, considering the many victims that have not yet been evacuated, particularly from the western coast of Acheh (Meulaboh and the area).

Compared with the other countries that suffered the disaster at almost the same time, our government is far slower in handling the disaster. Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand have finished evacuating the victims. At the moment, they are dealing with post-disaster excesses, which can cause more victims without immediate and efficient treatment. We have not even mention about the attempt to rebuild the ruined infrastructures, to rehabilitate and to heal the trauma of the Acheh people: the government has not shown any systematic and applicable plan.

 

Supposedly, the most able element to deal with the disaster is the government, considering the facilities that it has, especially the TNI and the Police (POLRI) force. It is very paradoxical when we compare the mobilization of TNIís troops to Acheh during the disaster with the TNI troops mobilization in conducting the war in Acheh. The deployment of TNI troops to Acheh along with their full combat armament in reality is useless under the existing condition; it will instead create a new terror for the Acheh people.

 

Under the existing condition, the government (TNI/POLRI) and GAM supposedly stop fighting and focus altogether on helping the victims in Acheh based on humanitarian purpose. This momentum can also be used to engage on cease-fire and to help the Acheh people solve their tremendous problem. The evidences in the field show the opposite, especially in such areas that are widely inaccessible to mass media as Meulaboh, Nagan Raya, Pidie Acheh Timur, etc. The TNI still uses repressive measures like screening (sweeping) the volunteers who try to enter isolated areas like Meulaboh, Nagan Raya, etc. Besides screening volunteers, the TNI also demands that logistics brought by volunteers be centralized at TNIís posts for them to distribute it to the people.

 

Insufficient volunteer mobilization, especially among the TNI/POLRI, in responding to the disaster sparked the initiative of various organizations to send volunteers to help the Acheh people. It can even be said that the entire national human-potential is hand-in-hand expressing its humanitarian solidarity. However, this initiative faced many obstacles as mentioned above. There are even some provocations saying that any logistic aid distributed by volunteers, instead of by the TNI/POLRI, will be susceptible of ending on GAMís hands. This information is not yet valid, because after a team of volunteers made some investigation they found that it was nothing but provocation meant to monopolize the distribution of logistic aid through TNI/POLRI. Until the time of the writing, we have not yet known what is TNIís motivation in monopolizing the distribution of logistic aid to the victim of the disaster.

 

Until now, refugees camps are spread over several points (Banda Acheh in Ulee Kareng, three areas; Blang bintang and the most in Mata Ie); in Pidie, the refugees are settling along the road from Banda Acheh to Medan; in Lhokseumawe the refugees are concentrated in 7 points such as Hirak field, Senudon, etc; in Acheh Jeumpa, refugees are spread in 14 points such as N Kando Tambo elementary school. Meanwhile in Meulaboh, there is no exact information of refugee areas because SEGERA volunteer lost contact due to the un-repaired communication network. The refugee condition is very sad. On January 1st some refugee camps ran out of logistics. In several areas that lack media coverage such as in Samalanga and in Pidie, there are still a lot of unburied bodies due to the lack of volunteers. Currently, media coverage mostly focuses on two issues: the volunteers concentrated in Banda Acheh and the attempt to open access to Meulaboh.

 

Piling up logistic aid and slow and inefficient distribution in Polonia (airport of Medan) and Blangbintang (Air Force base in Acheh) caused the loss of some logistic aid. The distribution of logistics that has not been managed well is starting to create hunger threat, especially in Meulaboh and the area, and Pidie and the area. Ironically, in Banda Acheh some people had died on the refugee camp of Mata le, Banda Acheh.

 

Therefore the Solidarity of People Movement for Acheh (SEGERA) and Acheh People Bond (IKARA) made the following statement and question to the government:

 

  1. Humanitarian aid, evacuation attempt and volunteer mobilization to the crisis areas are still denied access. There is no clear social and administration status on whether the Civil Emergency status is revoked or kept. This is very connected with the response and the need of the widest access for humanitarian aids from various elements.

  2. To demand governmentís commitment in the attempt to respond to the emergency; in terms of how far it will mobilize volunteers (TNI/POLRI troops Ė non war purpose), the use of important facilities which has become urgent, and the distribution of volunteers to areas of priority.

  3. To report to the government and to demand responsibility on such incidents in the field as illegal taxing to some volunteers (from Rp. 40,000 to Rp. 50,000) in Meulaboh, the selling of humanitarian aid by the TNI to the victims (happened in Banda Acheh, Bireun, Meulaboh Ė based on reports on December 30th), the loss of some logistic aid in Blang Bintang Air Force base Ė later it was found out that the TNI stole the aid for the provision of their troops (recorded on January 3rd)

  4. To push the TNI and GAM to engage in cease-fire and to focus on concrete attempts to respond to the humanitarian emergency

  5. To make a proposal that the government demand the Multi National Corporation (MNC) in Acheh such as PT. Exxon Mobil, PT. Arun, PT. Asean, etc to donate fund for initial recovery in Acheh with the minimum amount of Rp. 5 Trillion per-MNC (considering the huge exploitation they have done in Acheh)

  6. To demand anyone not to adopt children of victims, considering that evacuation and victim-registering process have not yet finished, and to push the government to take firm measure towards the practice of selling children of victims in Acheh.

  7. IKARA and SEGERA will report these incidents by requesting an audience with the Coordinator Minister of Welfare (Menkokesra) on January 5th 2005

Thus we made the joint statement with one purpose: to forge the widest humanitarian solidarity.

 

Ikatan Rakyat Acheh (IKARA)

Jln Metro Duta Raya Plaza 1 Blok UA 20-21 Pondok Indah Jakarta-Selatan, Telp/fax: 021-7501969; Faisal Saifuddin; Ketua IKARA; 0811907736

 

Solidaritas Gerakan Rakyat Untuk Acheh (SEGERA)

Jln Tebet barat dalam VII L No 2 Jakarta Selatan, Telp /Fax:

021-8309061/08158153172 Email: segera_aceh@yahoo.com; Arie Ariyanto; Ketua SEGERA; 08156867741

 

 

 

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