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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
 
 

Aid is still piled up in the airports of Blang Bintang

Author: Yulia Evina Bhara
Category: Acheh Tsunami
Date: 01/10/05

Commentary

p until now much aid is still piled up in the airports of Blang Bintang, Polonia, Medan and Halim. This is despite the fact that many locations have yet to receive aid, such as the are area of Lhong, on the way to Meulaboh, which has not received any at all.

There have been many obstructions to the distribution of aid. These are in the form of complicated administrative procedures, which must be accompanied by Identity Card and other forms of documentation. Even in normal circumstance this sort of thing is complained about, what's more in an emergency situation. This has occurred in areas where access by the media has been limited such as Meulaboh, Pidie and Acheh Jeumpa.

In Meulaboh there are still heavily armed patrols by the security forces which will only serve to increase the terror already felt by the Achenese people. This is despite the fact that in emergency conditions such as this weapons are no longer used. The food received by refugees is also minimal, only 2 packets of instant noodles and one bottle of water per day. All assistance efforts must be centralised in the local military command, and military commanders have the right to request whatever they want from existing aid command posts without providing details.

One consequence of the lack of distribution of aid and medical assistance to several refugee camps has been the death of many refugees, especially women and children. This has occurred in Mata Ie, Ulee Kareng, and a large part of Pidie and Acheh Jeumpa. Up until 4 January, in Banda Acheh there are still many corpses that have yet to be removed, especially in Lamprit, Penjar Keudah, Peunanyong, and the area of Ulee Lee. The same thing is still evident in Pidie and especially in Blang Paseh, Menteng and also the Chinese neighbourhood. This is also the case in Acheh Jeumpa, especially in Samalanga.

The aid which is piled up in the airports has not yet been distributed effectively, even though the refugees desperately need them. The procedure for collecting aid has also been made difficult by the TNI which guards the aid held at Blang Bintang airport as well as in Polonia airport in Medan. In the larger aid command posts which are managed by the government, the procedure for collecting materials to distribute to the people is extremely difficult, to the point that there are large amounts of aid material still sitting in the Blang Bintang and Polonia airports. In Polonia airport in Medan there are around 1000 trucks that have yet to be deployed. Volunteers from Medan deployed three trucks to distribute aid, however they weren't given permission to do so. The regent of Bireun, Mustafa A Gelangggang, should cry because he has been unable to facilitate the transporting of aid from the national command post in Bireun, Medan to Acheh Jeumpa which so desperately needs it. In government subdistrict offices the Achenese people are being required to show their identity cards before being given aid, even though many have lost them as a consequence of the tsunami.

The piling up of aid in a number of command posts in and around Jakarta is due to the difficulties being faced in distributing it to Acheh. In this case it is evident that the government has not taken any cooperative steps in terms of allowing easy access to areas in which aid needs to be distributed. If this is continues to be the case it means that the government is effectively disregarded the much needed humanitarian solidarity that will be gained from the participation of the nations potential as a whole.

The lack of organisation and the virtual non-existence of any coordination between Disaster Relief Field Units (Satkorlap) and the local military authorities has meant that everything is operating independently of each other. It is not clear where foreign aid is being coordinated, where official information centres are or where data on missing persons is, which has meant that people are forced to endeavour on their own.

In solidarity

Yulia Evina Bhara

 

 

 

 

 

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