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Indonesia: Aceh Migration Operation, Operation Update Report DREF Operation n° MDRID016

Situation Report
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Summary of major revisions made to emergency plan of action:

On 7 September 2020, a second boat carrying 296 people ran ashore in Lhokseumawe, Aceh Province. This second group of people are being accommodated in the same building where the first group of people arrived by boat (99 people) are still being hosted. The total people currently in the building is 387 people.

The operation is being adjusted to extend services in the sectors of health, WASH and shelter to meet the substantial increase in basic needs. To this end, an additional allocation of CHF157,828 and an extension of 2 months was granted to ensure the gaps in humanitarian needs are addressed in the short term. The operation will have a stronger focus on the provision of health services in recognition of the fact that the second group of people that arrived are in extremely poor health condition and there are still existing gaps in the provision of health services. The operation will also continue to support the WASH and shelter needs of both groups of migrants with the distribution of additional household items and the installation of additional emergency latrines and bathing facilities.


Description of the disaster

On 24 June 2020, a damaged motorboat carrying 99 migrants was identified off the coastline of Seunudoen, North Aceh. The 99 people on board included 31 women, 12 men, 40 girls, 16 boys (including one infant). After being rescued from the boat on Lancok Coast, North Aceh District, they were transferred to a training center owned by the Lhokseumawe City government, where they have been living with support from the local government, several non-government organizations, PMI, UNHCR and IOM. PMI recently reported that five female migrants left the facility, and inquiries have been made with UNHCR about this, but they also confirmed that there was no further information available regarding the reasons for the departure or the whereabouts of the women.

In the early hours of 7 September 2020, another boat holding 296 migrants ran ashore on the coast of Ujong Blang,
Lhokseumawe. The group included 183 children and 113 adults. The group were initially noticed wandering around villages in the area. The local authorities were alerted and with support from PMI, they located the migrants and relocated to them to the facility housing the first group of migrants. The groups were initially kept separate due to concerns regarding the health condition of the new group. The second group was initially staying in a tent in the grounds of the facility. Following bad weather in the area, a decision was made to move the new migrant group into the buildings. The shelter conditions for both groups are now over-crowded. However, separate spaces have been identified - one for men and one for women and children. While alternative solutions are being sought, there has yet an alternative site identified to house some of the migrants.

The new group was screened for COVID-19 with no positive diagnosis prior to being moved into the facility with the first group of migrants. However, having departed from Bangladesh via boat seven months ago, many of the newly arrived migrants are displaying symptoms of a range of health conditions including exposure, dehydration, skin and respiratory disorders and possible nutrient deficiencies. As of 13 September 2020, three migrants (two women and one man) from the second group have died due to health complications. Six migrants have been hospitalized in Lhokseumawe due to bloating and respiratory distress. Further medical screening and examination by doctors deployed by IOM, medical staff assigned by MSF, health department staff and PMI volunteers continued. There have been recommendations for at least 31 men and 83 women to receive further treatment from the hospital due to their severe health conditions. The government has expressed willingness to continue providing medical assistance to the migrants through the hospital as required. While the doctors conducting screenings during the day are not standby at the facility overnight, they are however, available on call.

Based on analysis from UNHCR, it is understood that both groups of migrants are part of a larger group of around 800 people who departed from Bangladesh at the same time and that both boats carrying the earlier and current groups of migrants were originally intending to reach Malaysia. 117 out of the 296 newly arrived migrants have UNHCR registration cards. Prior to their journeys to Indonesia, both groups of migrants were living in the displacement camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh following their forced displacement from Rakhine State. UNHCR have commenced the registration process for the new migrants prioritizing single women and children. This process is still ongoing.

Several organizations and agencies have been working on the ground to meet the immediate needs of the first group of migrants including providing food, medical care, water, health care, protection services, psychosocial support (PSS), sleeping mats and blankets, hygiene and sanitation, personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, and supporting the restoration of family links (RFL). These agencies, which include, UNHCR, IOM, PMI, Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center, (MDMC), Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT), Dompet Dhuafa, Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), Yayasan Guetanyoe, POLRI (Indonesian Police) and TNI (Indonesian army), will continue their work to support the newly arrived migrants. Regular coordination meetings are being held at the facility between the agencies operating there and the local government.