Information und Analyse

Death toll in Indonesia approaching 100,000

03 January 2005

Aid piling up at the airports – civil emergency still in force – military operation continuing


At the end of the road - Aid delivery stucks

Photo: Jörg Meier

The death toll in Indonesia today stands at more than 94,000 and still continues to rise. According to Government information, 270,000 people are currently in refugee camps in Aceh.

Aid and aid pledges

Aid operations are now eventually also underway for Aceh. On Thursday January 6th, 2005, Indonesia is going to host a conference to coordinate aid and relief efforts for the countries affected by the disaster.

All in all, the international community has pledged 2 billion US Dollar for relief operations in the 11 countries worst-affected. The largest single donor is Japan offering 500 million US Dollar, followed by the US which has increased its initial offer tenfold to 350 million US Dollar.

The USS Abraham Lincoln has reached the coast of Aceh and US military helicopters are dropping food into areas that are difficult or impossible to access. Australian army engineers are engaged in building water purification facilities in Banda Aceh and members of the German Armed Forces have set up a medical station in Aceh.

The Government has appointed the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alwi Shihab, as coordinator for relief operations.

One major problem is the distribution of aid. Aid has poured into the airports of Medan or even as far as Banda Aceh, but has piled up there due to a lack of logistics and infrastructure for distribution. Vice President Jusuf Kalla is reported as saying that the Government has established an Airport Emergency Team to overcome the problems.

Access for aid workers

According to WHO information, 50 international aid groups have by now arrived in Aceh. Apart from the presence of Western military on Indonesian soil and in its waters, this is another proof that the Central Government has opened up the province. According to information we received from an international aid worker, procedures are relatively easy – they don’t take up to two weeks as had been announced previously: Visa on arrival seems to be possible. A recommendation letter from the respective organizations is necessary and three photos. At the immigration office at international arrivals, one can then obtain a “Permit for Foreign Nationals Conducting a Visit and Activities in the Province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam” (Ijin Bagi Warga Negara Asing Yang Melakukan Kunjungan dan Kegiatan di Provinsi Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam) allowing at least an initial two weeks access to Aceh. Foreign aid workers have to report to the military and the police in Aceh.

We have, however, received reports that a local NGO team has been stopped by the military at Medan airport and initially prevented from hiring trucks for the transport of aid goods to Aceh (for details – in German – click here)

Operation against Free Aceh Movement continues

According to information posted on the homepage of the Military’s Operational Command in Aceh, half the troops deployed in the province have been transferred to the “Operation Humanity in the Province of Aceh”, whereas the “Operation Restoring Security” is still continued with the aim to crush the rebel movement GAM (Free Aceh Movement). The line of argument put forward for this is that the military would not tolerate any action of GAM, especially not if they took advantage of the current situation. Several newspapers have run stories about the ongoing operation and fighting and we continue to receive unconfirmed reports about military attacks on GAM fighters. To our information, the state of civil emergency is still in force, despite previous announcements of Vice President Jusuf Kalla to end the latter. <>

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