1. NATURAL DISASTERS
Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri told local administrations during a meeting of the National Coordinating Board for Natural Disasters and Refugees held Tuesday 6 March in Jakarta to be more responsive to natural disasters and not just wait for the central government to provide humanitarian aid. Since January last year, Indonesia has been struck by 33 floods, 25 landslides, 14 earthquakes, 12 fires and 6 storms, which have claimed a total of 692 lives and caused financial losses estimated at Rp1.5 trillion (US$158m).
According to media reports, at least 34 people were killed in Aceh during the reporting period in various incidents. The week was particularly frightening for residents of Idi Rayek in East Aceh. The town was literally occupied by GAM for approximately 14 hours on Friday 2 March, during which hundreds of GAM flags were raised along the roads. The town was reportedly occupied by GAM when most of the military and police personnel went out to carry out weapons sweeps in villages. The police housing compound as well as the prison and its vehicle were burned down. The security forces managed to regain control over the town in the afternoon, after intense fighting. Traffic between Banda Aceh and Medan was totally blocked. Hundreds of buses, trucks, and other private vehicles had to stay overnight on the road. Two civilians were reportedly killed during the clashes.
Pertamina has not provided fuel to several districts in the last two weeks for security reasons. Fuel shortages have been reported since 18 February in four districts: North Aceh, Bireuen, Pidie, and Central Aceh.
This week, public concern over the so-called "Limited Military Operation" in Aceh was heightened by statements by the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief, Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu. He was reported by The Jakarta Post on 7 March as having suggested that the government assign military troops to Aceh because the police are not trained to confront an armed rebellion. On 8 March, after attending Kostrad's 40th anniversary in Jakarta, Ryacudu said Kostrad troops had been prepared to fight enemies of the state, and that GAM, being an enemy of the state, should be quelled. He admitted to having already sent two battalions of Kostrad troops to Aceh. The chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Munir S.H., protested against a military solution to the Aceh problem, which according to him will worsen the situation in Aceh. Munir added that lessons should have been learned from the previous "Military Operations Area" (DOM) experience in Aceh.
TNI Chief of General Affairs Lt. Gen. Djamari Chaniago said Thursday 8 March that the TNI has been preparing troops to face the worst possibility in Aceh. However, Minister of Defence Mahfud M.D. told reporters on the same day the government has yet to make a decision to use military force to quell the separatist activities in Aceh.
The trial of Acehnese activist Muhammad Nazar, the chairman of the student-led Information Centre for a Referendum in Aceh (SIRA), began on Thursday in the provincial capital Banda Aceh amid tight security, with hundreds of security personnel surrounding the court. Contrary to expectations, no demonstration took place at/around the court.
The UK Ambassador, Richard Gozney, and Catherine Barnes from the Chancery, were scheduled to visit Banda Aceh on 7-9 March. The visit will focus on humanitarian and development issues. They were scheduled to meet with ICRC, IRC and OXFAM-UK.
3. IRIAN JAYA
The University of Cendrawasih Team led by J.R. Mansoben was winding up its consultation in the regions to obtain inputs for the formulation of the draft bill on special autonomy for Irian Jaya. A seminar on the draft bill was scheduled for 22 March.
The Papua Commission for Investigation of Human Rights Violations (KPP HAM) has summoned six officials suspected of involvement in the post-Abepura incident. The six include the former Chief of Irian Jaya Police and the current Deputy Chief, the Chief of Jayapura Police and the Commander of the Jayapura Brimob (Police Mobile Brigades). The questioning is slated to begin on March 15.
A joint-government plan to repatriate 371 Irianese from Papua New Guinea has been postponed indefinitely. The local papers reported that the PNG government was still trying to convince the people to return.
The local press reported that 13 people from the village of Nongme, Borme sub-district, died in February of an unknown epidemic, possibly dysentery. Similar cases have recently occurred in Debula village, Ninia sub-district, and Dagi village, where 16 and 7 people respectively were reported to have died of it. The three villages are in Jayawijaya district. The local health authorities, which fear that the number of deaths is higher than reported, sent a team of three medical personnel to Debula on Wednesday 7 March.
The Navy evacuated some 1,000 IDPs remaining in Sampit to Surabaya, East Java, on Thursday, bringing the number of evacuees to a little over 57,000. Of these, over 34,800 made their way to Sampang and 15,700 to Bangkalan, both on Madura Island, principally via Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), Semarang (Central Java), Surabaya and Gresik (East Java). Some of them are being kept in religious schools in their respective villages, but contrary to reports in the press, there are no temporary camps. As of Friday, a Satkorlak official said there remained only 73 IDPs in Sampit.
A Satkorlak official in Palangkaraya reported that of 1,172 IDPs from Kapuas district (east of Palangkaraya) who fled to Banjarmasin, the capital of South Kalimantan, 465 have returned to their homes. No violence was reported in the area where the local Dayaks helped the Madurese to flee when Sampit exploded. East Kotawaringin Regent Wahyudi K. Anwar said in Sampit that officials would now focus efforts on locating IDPs still hiding in the jungle.
The official number of bodies counted is now 383, but estimates vary from this number to 3,000. According to the provincial authorities, 1,175 houses and 267 semi-permanent homes were destroyed, as well as 17 cars, over 200 pedicabs and 48 motorcycles. The district head said on Monday 5 March that the violence in Sampit caused Rp17.5 billion (US$1.8m) in losses to the community and local administration.
Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Monday 5 March that Jakarta would let the local government and informal leaders decide on when the situation is peaceful enough to move the IDPs back to Sampit. Earlier the Home Affairs Minister and the House Speaker said the Madurese have a right to return to Central Kalimantan. Dayak leaders in a meeting with the local parliament Tuesday said they opposed a return of the Madurese IDPs at this stage because it would spark fresh violence. President Wahid said Thursday that the government would study the possibility of relocating them elsewhere. Psychologists meeting at the University of Indonesia's crisis centre on Thursday argued against the premature return of tens of thousands of Madurese IDPs to Central Kalimantan, warning that it could spur "a bigger killing spree."
A Dayak leader said Sunday 4 March that a team would prepare a White Paper on the recent clash between the Dayak and Madurese. Many Dayaks and people of other ethnic groups, while not condoning the atrocities committed by the Dayaks, blamed the unrelenting violent behaviour of the Madurese as the root cause of the conflict, as well as the inability of the authorities to uphold justice when dealing with alleged Madurese criminals. Dayak leaders denied accusations that economic jealousy was behind the ethnic cleansing, arguing that other well-to-do ethnic groups were not attacked.
Antara quoted provincial police chief Brig. Gen. Togar M. Sianipar in Samarinda, East Kalimantan as warning on Wednesday that ethnic violence could erupt in the province due to the population's heterogeneous ethnic composition. Togar noted that ethnic violence had erupted in Sambas, West Kalimantan, two years ago, where the demographic make-up of the population is similar. Representatives of 19 ethnic groups living in East Kalimantan have made a peace pact to prevent mass violence in the province.
South Kalimantan governor Sjahril Darham was reported by the Jakarta Post on Thursday 8 March as having said in Banjarmasin that he plans to have all Kalimantan governors (East, West, Central and South) and the East Java governor meet to discuss the aftermath of the mayhem.
In Jakarta, the National Police detective chief, Inspector Gen. Engkesman Hillep, said that the head of the regional development department in East Kotawaringin district, who is one of three men suspected of sparking off the Sampit violence, had admitted paying Rp15m (US$1,500) to 30 people to launch an attack on Madurese migrants. Hillep identified the two other suspects, also Dayaks, as a forest ranger and a private worker. He said the three suspects, who had been questioned in Jakarta, had claimed that the attacks on Madurese were prompted by a declaration of war by the migrant settlers. The weekly magazine Tempo on Monday said he and other officials objected to new local government appointments, which were to have been announced on February 19.
The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) announced Tuesday 6 March that it would form a commission to investigate human rights violations in Sampit.
Munir, the chairman of the human rights organisation Kontras, told the press on Wednesday that several NGOs are planning to file a lawsuit against President Wahid and National Police Chief Gen. Suroyo Bimantoro for failing to protect civilians during the ethnic clashes in Central Kalimantan. The NGOs will ask victims of the violence to support the lawsuit, which would constitute an unprecedented legal move by victims of unrest. Munir said that the police and other security personnel had ignored warnings in January that ethnic clashes might erupt between Dayaks and Madurese.
President Wahid visited Central Kalimantan right after returning from a 15-day trip abroad and had talks with community leaders in Palangkaraya. Reports said that 4 to 6 demonstrators, including a student, died in Palangkaraya when the police fired shots at the crowd (about 1,000-strong) following his departure on Thursday 8 March. Reports said houses owned by Madurese were burned down, but a Satkorlak official said only one house was burned.
Police said two men believed to be ethnic Dayak (one of them married to a Madurese) were lynched on Madura Island Thursday 8 March in an apparent revenge attack by a mob.
The Government proposed Thursday six measures to handle the Kalimantan violence: (1) the return of highly sacred land to the Dayak tribe, (2) rehabilitation of public facilities, (3) up to Rp800m (US$80,000) in assistance to the East Kotawaringin administration, (4) provision of government scholarships to 100 Dayak students, (5) delivery of 25 tonnes of rice to East Kotawaringin District and 225 tonnes to the Madurese refugees in East Java, and (6) establishment of a social and cultural integration centre in Sampit.
IMC conducted a mission to Madura and Surabaya from 1 to 4 March. The mission report stated that continued surveillance of IDPs in Bangkalan and Kamal districts seemed to be a concern of local health authorities. Bulog (the National Logistics Agency) will provide rice but apparently lacks capacity to distribute it to outlying communities. Clean water could become scarce with an influx of IDPs in villages in Madura, especially with the dry season arriving soon. Medical supplies were another concern. There seemed to be no expert to provide trauma counselling. IMC has been accessing all vessels going this week from Sampit to Surabaya. In the one arriving in Surabaya Tuesday 6 March IMC staff had treated 300 patients and assisted two safe births en route. IMC is providing a mobile clinic in five outlying areas of Sampit.
The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), with ICRC support, provided family kits containing sleeping mats, cooking utensils, and buckets to Madurese IDPs arriving in Surabaya or at a temporary shelter in Bangkalan, Madura Island, as well as hot meals.
A USAID/OFDA team comprising Mr. Herbie Smith, Mission Disaster Relief Officer, Ms. Pam Wolf, Public Health Adviser, and Mr. Harlan Hale, of OFDA, went to Madura from 2 to 4 March. Their objective was to assess the situation of Madurese evacuees and review the child weaning-food distribution to evacuees carried out by World Vision (WVI). The US government has provided US$65,000 to WVI for this activity. WVI is closely monitoring the nutritional status of children and distributing one-month nutritional rations of Vitadele to all children under five. The team was impressed by the work of the Indonesian Red Cross (see above). As the evacuees are being absorbed into host communities, the team has advised that future assistance should target both the host communities and the evacuees, to avoid promoting jealousy.
At least five people have reportedly died in temporary camps set up to accommodate some 31,000 refugees in Sampang, Madura Island. Sampang Regent Secretary Erdit Herumandi said that at least three of the deaths were infants due to diarrhoea while two were adults caused by respiratory problems and a stress-related heart attack.
AusAid announced Wednesday 7 March it was going to provide 1,000 metric tonnes of rice through the WFP for the IDPs.
The past week has been marked by small exchanges of fire reportedly between security forces as well as between security forces and Muslims. No reliable casualty figures have been cited, although they are not likely to have been significant.
The Jakarta Post daily reported Saturday 3 March that both Pattimura Military Commander Brig. Gen. I Made Yasa and Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Firman Gani were sceptical about achieving a "zero violence" situation due to the complexities of the problems and the presence of the Laskar Jihad.
Bishop of the GPM protestant church Minister Sammy Titaley said Sunday 4 March that during the more than two years of religious conflict in Maluku 2,000 church members were killed, including several ministers, 190,000 church members were living as IDPs, and 200 church buildings were destroyed.
Siwalima daily reported Wednesday 7 March that about 200 Bacan IDPs who were living in Nurue village, Kairatu sub-District, Central Maluku, have moved again to Tobelo sub-District, North Maluku, for lack of food and attention from the government.
The Japanese government awarded to the local administration on Wednesday US$540,000 (Rp5.1 billion) in grants under a grassroots assistance scheme for projects designed to help with the transportation of IDPs in Maluku and North Maluku provinces.
About 80 local NGOs participated in the Mercy Corps-led needs assessment workshop held on 8 March in Ambon.
Mercy Corps has opened up applications for local NGOs for another round of food security grants, focusing on micro-credit grants for agriculture and fishing.
The WHO-sponsored Health as a Bridge for Peace programme is continuing with a facilitators workshop in Ambon 13-15 March. This will enable the concept and practice to be spread throughout the province at a higher rate.
Nineteen cases of measles have been noted in IDP sites under the administration of the Halong Navy Base in the last two weeks.
MSF-B is intensifying its hygiene promotion campaign, which has been very successful to date.
Mercy Corps delivered a micro-finance training seminar to over 40 local NGOs who are receiving food security grants. The training focused on best practices for micro-credit and covered discussions on sustainability, development of fair interest rates and cash flow projections.
6. NORTH MALUKU
The security situation was calm during the 'Id al-Adha celebration, despite a small skirmish between TNI soldiers and two policemen.
Lobbying and activities for election of the new Provincial Governor continues. There are several candidates for the post.
A joint USAID/OTI, IMC and OCHA mission is taking place in North Halmahera to observe the IDP return process and identify possible activities to support it.
IDP Issues/ Population Movements
The government is committed to return the IDPs to their places of origin. On 3 March, 62 families (304 people) were returned from Ternate to Mutui village in Jailolo sub-district.
According to a local source, besides security and other problems the main obstacle for return is the lack of education facilities. IDPs in Makian Island are reluctant to return to Malifut because all schools and houses were destroyed there.
From 7 January to 24 February, AcF distributed a food package to 6,700 families (28,657 people) in the 6 sub-districts of Bacan, Ternate Island, Gane Timur, North Ternate, Jailolo and Sahu of North Maluku. The package consisted of 10 kg of rice, 1.5 kg of mung beans, 1 litre of oil, 0.4 kg of sugar and 0.125 kg of salt per person.
From 26 January until 25 February, WVI distributed 2 kg of Vitadele per child to a total of 1,072 IDP children in all sub-districts of Ternate Island. Between 26 February and 2 March, they distributed 10 kg of rice per person, 1.5 kg of Mung beans per person, 0.125 kg of salt per person and 1 litre of oil per person to 19,280 people in the same locations, as well as some non-food items.
A representative from WFP Headquarters, Mr. Eishow, will be in North Maluku from 9 to 11 March visiting WFP implementing partners (World Vision International and Action contre la Faim).
On 6 March, IMC completed the distribution of the last consignment of WHO drugs to the sub-district health department and the public hospital in Ternate City. IMC with two medical doctors made a total of 288 consultations in the villages of Pelita, Saluta, Togasa and Tutumalelo in Galela, North Halmahera. Expatriate doctors are reportedly no longer allowed to do consultations or surgery in North Maluku.
On 7-8 March UNFPA held a two-day training workshop for 9 community-based counsellors at the UN Resource Centre in Ternate. The counsellors are UNFPA staff working among women in IDP camps and IDP-affected areas in Ternate, Jailolo, Makian, Tidore and Galela. The course covered instructions on basic reproductive health, review of progress made in counselling, problems faced and related needs of the women. A similar course will be held in Manado for four other counsellors operating in Bitung, Tobelo and Jailolo. Under the present project, UNFPA has a total of 16 counsellors operating in IDP camps in Manado, Ternate and IDP-affected areas in North Halmahera district.
During the reporting period, a PMI and ICRC special team visited Gane Timur in southern Halmahera for a health survey and tracing. They are planning to distribute family and hygiene kits in Kedi and Loloda, in Sahu sub-district, Northern Halmahera district.
7. CENTRAL SULAWESI
Vice President Megawati asked the Governor of Central Sulawesi on Wednesday 7 March to pay attention to IDPs currently staying in Poso.
Muslims and Christians in the district of Ampana Kota in Poso regency have been night-patrolling the area together following the explosion at a church in the area on Monday. No one was arrested over the blast.
8. WEST TIMOR
Two former police officers from East Nusa Tenggara province, which comprises West Timor, testified in favour of defendant Eurico Guterres at the North Jakarta District Court on Thursday 8 March, saying they had never seen him order his men to attack a police station in Belu to reclaim their weapons.
On Saturday 3 March 495 East Timorese refugees, including relatives of former Indonesian soldiers, arrived in Dili from Kupang, West Timor, in a repatriation programme overseen by IOM. An IOM official expressed concern over the presence of Elizariou Perreira, former deputy head of the Aitarak pro-Jakarta militia, who apparently had in his possession a list of refugees due to leave with the next ferry. Indonesian authorities identified him as a member of Indonesian military intelligence attached to the provincial command. IOM is concerned that his presence, in this capacity, might deter refugees from returning.
Surya Timor daily reported Tuesday 6 March that an Indonesian official said Indonesian citizens entering East Timor would have to carry passports.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta called on Monday 5 March for the creation of a UN tribunal for East Timor if Indonesia fails to punish those responsible for the atrocities committed there in 1999.
A UN court sentenced an East Timorese freedom fighter on Thursday 1 March to seven years imprisonment for murdering a pro-Indonesian militiaman in the mayhem that erupted after the territory voted for independence in 1999. Presiding judge Sylver Ntukamazina from Burundi said the punishment was meant to contribute to the process of reconciliation in the territory.
The US State Department Thursday warned Americans travelling to East Timor to exercise 'extreme caution' and avoid areas along the border between East and West Timor because of incursions of pro-Indonesia militias.
Around 50 supporters of East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres burned an American flag outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta Thursday to protest Washington's alleged meddling Indonesia's internal affairs. The demonstrators claimed the U.S. was behind moves by the UN administration in East Timor to prosecute Indonesians alleged to have been involved in the 1999 violence in the territory.
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