Chaos and crisis grip Indonesia

News and Press Release
Originally published
Indonesia 1/98
Dear Friends,

After weeks of simmering tension the situation in Indonesia reached a flashpoint in early May sparking off violent street protests accompanied by arson and looting, culminating in injuries and several hundred fatalities.

The rapid deterioration in the Indonesian economy aggravated by the fire and drought induced food crisis has caused immense hardships to large sections of the Indonesian population.

The El Niño related drought which affected the island of Irian Jaya (Indonesia) and for which the ACT Coordinating Office (C O) issued an Appeal on 26 November '97, has since affected virtually all the islands of the Indonesian archipelago as well as Malaysia.

In the meantime, the C O has been monitoring the situation and has also been in consultation with members of the ACT Network to explore possible interventions, the developments of which are as follows:

  • Church World Service - USA representative visited Sulawesi island in mid-April to assess the situation and consult its partners on possible course of action. CWS is currently preparing an ACT Appeal which is expected to include food aid from USAID.
  • In response to a request from the Methodist Bishop, the United Methodist Committee On Relief - USA expressed their intention to send a staff person by end May to assess the situation. The C O welcomes participation by other ACT Network member(s) and requests those interested to inform the C O as soon as possible, preferably by end of current week.
  • Dutch Interchurch Aid has accepted an invitation from the Dutch Diaconates for an assessment visit to Irian Jaya and other affected areas of Indonesia. This visit has been scheduled for June 6 - 25, 98.
  • Basel Mission partner Diakoni Foundation has sent a request through Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS) for distribution of food aid to 10,000 people in West Kalimantan.
  • Most recently the Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS), Malaysia sent a request through the Lutheran World Federation and Diakonisches Werk (DDW). LWF has offered to send an experienced person from its Cambodia program to do a quick assessment and assist PCS in drawing up a proposal. Subject to suitability of dates, DDW may participate in the visit.
The C O has already initiated the process for responding to the needs expressed by the last two named churches above and seeks the Network's advice and cooperation for a well coordinated and effective response to the crisis in Indonesia.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Co-ordinator, Miriam Lutz (phone ++41 22 791 6032 or mobile phone ++ 41 89 203 6055)
ACT Appeals Officer, Neville Pradhan (phone +41 22 791 6035)

ACT Web Site address: