INDONESIA: Speedy and better coordination of relief work by the Indonesian Government could help Aceh recover

Asian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned by reports of delays in aid distribution in Indonesia, especially in the worst hit region of Aceh. Since the tsunamis hit Sumatra and Aceh, there has been an overwhelming international will and response for Indonesian victims. However, lack of clear distribution procedures, the limited capacity of the central government, and strict control of TNI over aid stocks, coupled with logistical issues faced on the ground, is making it impossible for international aid to reach survivors. AHRC urges the Indonesian Government to take positive steps to ensure the speedy delivery of international aid and assistance to people by sharing the responsibility of distribution with national and international humanitarian actors. 

Most of the north-west coast of Aceh province is obstructed by a mountain range and cut off from supply overland, with its bridges, roads, and harbours destroyed as a result of the tsunami. Reports from Indonesia suggest that at least 100,000 people have died and enormous numbers have become homeless.  Many are also suffering from skin and other diseases and most lack fresh water and food supplies. 

AHRC recognises the unprecedented circumstances of this disaster and the grave loss of life, loss of state infrastructure and shock to the affected countries that it has caused. In such circumstances, it is essential that all actors including the government, donors and the civil society must work together to formulate ways to resolve the logistical issues involved. AHRC is aware that the loss of human life, trauma of the catastrophe and the terrain of the region pose the biggest challenge to the participation of people in the emergency and rehabilitation phase. Appropriate strategies developed jointly by all sectors, therefore, are the only way to resolve the current situation and pave the way for the future improvement of affairs in the region. 

Latest reports from Aceh reveal that there is almost no distribution of aid. Stocks lay stranded at military airports because the existing military and government infrastructure is not capable of dealing with their distribution. As military helicopters are not capable of carrying large shipments of water, food and medicine, the humanitarian response to this catastrophe has been limited and ineffective.

Stockpiles similar to the one in Medan have been accumulating in other cities as well. Organisations sending food aid to Aceh have not been given clear information regarding government and military procedures in relation to their goods. It is assumed that the transportation of aid by planes will be the fastest and most effective means of distribution, but the reality is that the aid is being delayed by irregular and unreliable flight schedules to and within Aceh. Similarly, in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, there is a clear lack of cooperation from the military side to non-state humanitarian actors in the endeavour to reach survivors and to access supplies piled up in military warehouses. AHRC calls for the developing of joint strategies to overcome this problem and to finding innovative and speedy ways to reach the victims. 

AHRC stresses the importance of the Indonesia Government to take immediate steps to overcome the inefficiencies in its current aid distribution policies, so that all people, in all Indonesia’s regions, are provided with the aid they so eagerly require.  A TNI policy contrary to the declarations made by the president of the country should be taken seriously and the civilian government must take responsibility by adopting open, transparent and accessible means of distribution of aid. 

AHRC therefore calls upon the Indonesian Government to: 

Extend an invitation to all international and national relief agencies so that they can assist and provide their expertise in the humanitarian response to this catastrophe; 

Adopt open, transparent and non-bureaucratic procedures in the distribution of aid; 

Involve present national and international volunteers’ groups in the distribution process and facilitate their work so that all suffering communities can benefit from the international aid that has been provided.  

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-01-2005
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers,