Indonesia: NRC country programmes

News and Press Release
Originally published
The members of CARDI (the Consortium for Assisting the Refugees and Displaced in Indonesia) collaborate on all the activities in Indonesia. CARDI consists of the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Danish Refugee Council, the American International Refugee Committee, and the Dutch Stichting Vluchteling. All of these bodies are respected non-governmental organizations, and together they have almost 200 years' experience in helping refugees. CARDI was founded in January 2001.

The Norwegian Refugee Council has the following goals for its work in Indonesia:

  • Support access to schooling and other normalizing activities for children and young people in camps for internally displaced persons

  • Support efforts to help people return to their homes or settle in a third place

  • Help internally displaced persons find a permanent way of making a living
This is what we are doing:
  • Initiating income-generating projects for returned families with a female head

  • Re-establishment of basic schooling and distribution of teaching materials and school uniforms

  • Normalizing measures based on equality

  • Micro-projects for mixed communities

  • Monitoring the process of settlement in a third country

  • Running teaching programmes about peace for local people and young internally displaced persons
Recent developments in projects:

Income-generating measures for vulnerable groups

The conflict in Aceh led to many people having to flee their homes for a brief period. After several weeks, most of them could return to their homes, but found that their homes had been plundered and destroyed. CARDI provided support for measures to generate income for 300 households affected by the conflict in Aceh. 90 % of the households that received support had a female head.


Two offices have been established in the Moluccas to monitor the ongoing situation and assist local partners in small projects. These projects cover everything from teaching to income-generating schemes and reconciliation work to improving water and sanitation systems. The projects are aimed at communities with a mixed population, regardless of whether it is a Christian-Muslim divide or a case of internally displaced persons and the local population. CARDI also supports projects aimed at communities to which previously internally displaced persons are returning.


In 2001, CARDI supported 3305 school children with teaching materials, school uniforms and re-establishment of school buildings and gave occupational training to 609 young people living in camps for internally displaced persons in North Sulawesi.

In addition, a network was established of 100 young course leaders. They teach peace studies and work generally to improve the relations between young internally displaced persons and the local population and prepare internally displaced young people for return to their original home places. This project has now been concluded.

Recent developments - the conflict and the refugee situation

The many conflicts in Indonesia have different backgrounds, different manifestations, and occur in many of the various different regions that together make up Indonesia. The number of internally displaced persons has doubled in a little over two years from 600 000 in January 2000 to 1 200 000 at the end of March 2002. In the areas where the Norwegian Refugee Council has established a presence, the situation is as follows:


The vast natural resources in this province have not benefited the local population. This combined with protracted oppression has given rise to a strong separatist movement in the province. Demands for independence have been rebuffed by the government with brutal military force. The presence of the military forces is marked by murder, disappearances, and numerous other violations of human rights. Systematic harassment and murder of people working for humanitarian organizations have prevented aid from reaching the internally displaced persons in areas other than the capital of the province. Most of the internally displaced persons lack food, proper sanitary conditions, access to clean water and medical assistance.

The Molucca Islands:

The population in this group of islands consists of Christians and Muslims, and in 1999 a trivial argument on a bus between a Christian and a Muslim triggered a wave of violence that has spread throughout the islands. The unrest affects both groups: houses, churches and mosques have been burnt down and half a million people have been forced to flee their homes. Aid organizations have managed to meet the most acute needs of the refugees, but many people still lack adequate shelter. A considerable number of UN organizations and international and local non-governmental organizations operate in the Moluccas. Although the situation has stabilized somewhat, most aid organizations are involved in both acute emergency relief and more long-term development projects.


Indonesia consists of 17 500 islands. There are huge variations among the people who call themselves Indonesians in terms of historical, cultural and ethnic background. In the wake of the economic crisis that struck Indonesia in 1998, religious and ethnic tensions blew up between many of these groups. In addition, several provinces wanted independence, which was denied by the central government. In addition to these factors, the large numbers of internally displaced persons in Indonesia are also due to the former president Suharto's migration programmes. These programmes involved forcibly moving large groups of people from Java to areas with fewer inhabitants. However, it seems that many of the conflicts that are characterized as "ethnic conflicts" have in fact been provoked by elite groups that fear that they will lose their advantageous positions as a result of the democratization process that the country is currently undergoing as a result of the resignation of President Suharto.