Following a meeting with leaders of the main political parties on 2 August, President Megawati decided to postpone the announcement of the make-up of the new Cabinet until next week.
At least 31 people were killed in a landslide on Tuesday, which buried part of Sambulu village on Nias Island, about 100 kilometers off the northwest coast of Sumatra Island. The District Government reported that at least 145 houses were destroyed in the four sub-districts hit by the landslides and floods. The four sub-districts are Lahusa, Lolomatua, Teluk Dalam, and Lolowahu. The Government dispatched a mission on 2 August comprising senior officials of the Indonesian line ministries. They brought assistance of 100MT rice and Rp.100 million, as well as non-food relief items such as blankets and medical supplies, tents, small boats, and cooking stoves. The Government also mobilized a helicopter and 2 Nomade aircrafts to be used by the search and rescue team of 115 personnel (including police officers and military members) to recover the victims. 550 flood victims who are displaced have been accommodated in a school in Lahusa sub-district, while 11 injured persons are being treated at the local community health centre (Puskesmas), also in Lahusa sub-district. It was previously reported that 821 people were missing due to this disaster, but in reality, 750 of them had fled to the mountains and have now returned to their villages. The latest figure of missing persons from the four sub-districts is 131 persons. Although Indonesia is in the middle of its annual dry season, there has been an unusually large amount of rainfall in parts of the country. The causes of the landslide are unclear, but the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said that three earthquakes - of a magnitude of between 5.3 and 5.4 - were recorded near Nias Island on Tuesday. The temblors were centered in the Indian Ocean about 700 kilometers southwest of Nias. The Meteorology and Geophysics Agency also reports that there is still potential for heavy rains and thunderstorms in the coming month with strong winds of 60 to80 kilometers per hour and waves that could reach 3 to 6 metres during the day.
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said on Monday that the recent reports of forest fires have raised fears of a repeat of the thick haze that affected much of Southeast Asia in 1997/1998. CIFOR and ICRAF (the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry), both based in Bogor, Indonesia, are developing strategies to tackle the fires, in discussion with the government. They believe that in addition to fire fighting efforts, teams of experts should assemble immediately to investigate the current fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra. Suyanto, from ICRAF, said the majority of Indonesian forest and ground fires were lit deliberately, as burning is the cheapest method to clear land. He said large scale operations, such as oil palm and logging concerns, were believed to have started about two-thirds of the fires, while the others were started by farmers preparing land for crops. Although stricter controls over burning in peat areas would greatly reduce the threat of fires, any action would have to take into account the socio-economic forces driving the fires and offer practical alternatives to burning.
Violence is continuing despite the approval by the central government of the Bill on Special Autonomy for Aceh, which has elicited a wide range of reactions among the population. While some people, in particular government employees, welcome the approval of the bill, most people have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, wondering whether special autonomy will accommodate their aspiration for peace, foster economic development and lead to the fair sharing of revenues from natural resources. Others doubt that the central government will implement the bill as foreseen in its clauses. For its part, GAM rejected the bill arguing that the government does not have the right to manage and govern Aceh.
Eight members of GAM, 1 military and 3 civilians were killed and 5 unidentified bodies found during the week. In addition, 2 government offices were burnt in Langsa, East Aceh, 11 houses and shops burnt in Peureulak, East Aceh and 112 houses burnt and dozens of animals shot in the sub-district of Tiro-Truseb, Pidie.
A hand grenade, hurled by men on two motor cycles, exploded at the front gate of the Governor's office in Banda Aceh on Saturday. No casualties were reported. Another grenade exploded at the official residence of the deputy police chief on Sunday and injured a passer-by.
The number of sweeping operations by the security forces has significantly increased over the past two weeks, and a general search operation took place in all the hotels of Banda Aceh.
GAM's "Health Minister-in-exile" Zaini Abdullah told Reuters in Stockholm on Wednesday that unless President Megawati releases the six key Acehnese figures and negotiators arrested on 20 July by the police for inciting rebellion, the peace talks scheduled to be held in Geneva in September would not take place. The six include GAM spokesman Amni Marzuki and chief peace negotiator Nashiruddin Ahmad.
Earlier, on Saturday, the Assistant for General Crimes of the Aceh Provincial Prosecutor's Office stated that the Aceh Police had approved the questioning of five of the GAM negotiators arrested on 20 July. He indicated that the dossiers on the suspects would be submitted to the Aceh Prosecutor's Office within two weeks.
Banda Aceh and other towns in the province are full of Indonesian flags, especially at Government offices, along bridges, on shops, houses and vehicles, although there are still two weeks to go before 17 August, the 56th anniversary of Indonesia's independence. The security forces are putting pressure on people to reach a target of at least 10,000 flags per district. In Banda Aceh the military ordered all houses, offices and shops to raise the Indonesian flag. GAM has issued warnings to the population not to comply.
The local parliament (DPRD) and the provincial government have established an Islamic Scholars Council (Majelis Permusyawaratan Ulama, or MPU), to provide guidance to the local government for the implementation of Islamic law. The DPRD and local government are preparing several laws related to local budgeting and revenue sharing among the districts of the province.
About 2,500 hectares of rice and cash-crops in 11 sub-districts in Pidie will be lost due to a drought that started two months ago and the shortage of irrigation water caused by the small water debit of the rivers in these areas. The most affected areas are the sub-districts of Glumpang tiga, Indrajaya, and Peukan Baro.
During a seminar on Street Children on July 25 conducted by the Social Welfare Service (Dinsos) the Governor indicated that the poverty rate in Aceh had increased from 10% 3 months ago to more than 32 % by the end of July, affecting 1,344,000 people of a population of 4.2 million. He blamed the economic crisis and the political conflict for the increasing poverty rate and the number of street children. Dinsos estimates that Aceh now has over 3,000 street children, 120 of them in Banda Aceh.
A contingency planning committee was formed after a workshop on contingency planning supported by UNHCR and OCHA was held from 19-21 July in Banda Aceh. The committee is engaged in sectorial planning in 9 sectors, namely: general coordination; security and protection; food and nutrition; evacuation, logistics, transportation and communication; shelter and infrastructure; family kit assistance; water supply, health and nutrition; education; and social services coordination. Each sector has completed the identification of available resources and is now preparing budgets. A "wrap up" meeting will be held on 4 August at the Satkorlak office. The contingency plan, which is being prepared in anticipation of a possible deterioration of the situation around 17 August, is expected to be finalised the first week of August.
The latest OXFAM IDP figures for the 5 districts stand at 16,839, to which 112 families in the sub-district of Tiro, in Pidie, should be added. There is no accurate IDP figure for Tiro due to lack of access to the area. According to a government employee who joined a military and head of district team delivering assistance to the IDPs in Tiro, the IDPs received 9.5 metric tons of rice and Rp. 38 million in cash on 27 July. They would also need clothes and medicines, because their houses were burnt down and they have lost their properties, including their animals.
Following a needs assessment three weeks ago, ICRC and the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) have started on 3 August the distribution of family kits and hygiene kits to IDP camps throughout Aceh.
The daily Serambi reported on1 August that twenty-one primary schools in 6 sub-districts of West Aceh have suspended their activities during the last two months due to an exodus of teachers from the area. Most of the teachers were from outside West Aceh. The head of the Education Department of West Aceh, T. Usman Basyah, said the 21 schools are located in transmigration areas in the sub-districts of Kaway XVI, Meureubo, Beutong, Kuala, Samatiga and Woyla. About 2,000 school children enrolled in those schools are now neglected. In addition, a lot of school equipment, including furniture and students progress report books, was damaged due to lack of care, theft and vandalism. The head of district of West Aceh promised to do his best to provide equipment and teachers to the schools. In the sub-district of Seunuddon, North Aceh, over 50 % of 337 Junior High School graduates are unable to continue their studies due to their family's financial problems.
A UNICEF Eye Movement Desensitisation and Repositioning (EMDR) training was successfully carried out from 25 to 28 August and its participants have formed the EMDR Association of Aceh. The UN Resource Centre in Banda Aceh will be used for a monthly meeting to discuss problems and share experience gathered from practice in the field.
4. IRIAN JAYA
The Antara news agency reported that on Wednesday the government had announced its commitment to continue seeking the release of two Belgian hostages through "persuasion and dialogue" and avoid the use of force. Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Agum Gumelar said that the local security authorities are cooperating with religious and community leaders to secure the release of the filmmakers held by separatist rebels in Puncak Jaya district. He added that his office had held a meeting with representatives of relevant ministries on Monday to discuss the case and that the government rejected foreign intervention in the effort to release the hostages.
The daily Papua Post reported on 1 August that Police Chief Made Mangku Pastika had said that Church negotiators Br. Theo van den Broek and Rev. Dr. Benny Giay would leave for Ilaga on Saturday, 4 July, carrying with them suggestions and recommendations for a peaceful release of the hostages.
The situation continues to be relatively calm in the province. Sporadic shooting has been heard in the outskirts of Ambon City most nights, but no casualties have been reported during the week.
A weeklong joint needs assessment to southern Buru arrived back in Ambon on 3 August. Participation included UNICEF, the UN Resource Centre, International Medical Corps and the local NGO Yayasan Pemali. Findings of the mission will be reported on in next week's update.
A Mercy Corps mission to Southeast Maluku departed on 23 August to look at potential support of water and sanitation and return activities, as well as conclude the OTI/USAID shelter assessments.
Due to bad weather (rough seas), the Mercy Corps mission to Seram to undertake pre-monitoring of projects was postponed until the coming week.
MSF-B will proceed to Seram on 7 August for a water and sanitation assessment.
ACF has distributed food in the Masohi area (Seram) this week.
UNICEF immunization programmes focusing on training have been completed in Ambon City and will proceed shortly in the other four districts of the province.Following this, there will be a backlog sweep to identify un-immunised children.
In September, UNICEF will hold workshops on safe motherhood with participants from Buru and West Southeast Maluku (the two districts in the province that are part of the UNICEF Safe Motherhood Programme).
During the month of July, UNICEF ensured distribution of 30Mts of Vitadele in four Maluku districts (Ambon town, Buru, Central Maluku and West Southeast Maluku). Plans are for an additional 60MTs to be distributed in August and 50MTs in September.
UNICEF-sponsored events surrounding National Children's Day have been completed except on Buru and in Ambon City where a toy-gun exchange has not been completed. The workshop on Children's Rights resulted in the setting up of "Forum Maluku Pembela Hak-hak Anak", which will promote children's rights in the province.
Plans are proceeding for a UNICEF-sponsored conflict management workshop from 17 to 20 September in Ambon.
6. NORTH MALUKU
On the evening of 28 July, the police in Ternate arrested 24 people arriving by boat from Bitung (North Sulawesi). The group said they belong to the religious sect"Jamaah Islamia". Further interrogation revealed that most of them had come from Poso and Palu and 8 of them from Wasile in Central Halmahera district. As the Police were not convinced of their motives, they were deported in accordance with the Governor's directive restricting movements of intruders.
North Maluku is enjoying an unusually good harvest of cloves, as well as high market prices of over Rupiah 70,000/kilo for the commodity, compared to the earlier price of Rupiah 30,000/kilo.
Engineer M. Saleh Marasabessy, head of the Agriculture and Food Crops Department of North Maluku district, has announced that his department would spend Rp 3 billion (some US$ 3 million) to provide horticultural seeds, agricultural equipment and chain saws in 14 sub-districts involved in the returnee process. This assistance will support income generation activities in the communities.
ACF staff left Ternate to conduct a reconstruction assessment in East Gane sub-district. The assessment is expected to continue into next week.
A USAID/OTI team is monitoring the progress of shelter rehabilitation being done by returnees benefiting from a USAID building material donation to the province. Another team is assessing ideas for women empowerment initiatives for community development in the province.
The British Council concluded a six-day visit aimed at identifying ideas and possibilities for community development programmes in the province. The team departed Ternate on 27 July.
The Satlak (district coordinating body) of North Maluku district repatriated 43 Moslem households (133 IDPs) from Ternate to Tetewang village in Jailolo sub-district on 26 July and 42 Christian households (184 IDPs) from Tobelo to Soakonora village in Galela sub-district on 31 July.
MDM continued routine health activities in Ibu sub-district. The organisation is preparing a health-training programme expected to start in August.
IMC doctors attended a monthly activity-programming meeting this week in Ternate. In the field, IMC has rehabilitated and provided a water installation and a pharmaceutical storage room complete with shelves for medicines to the Puskesmas (local health centre) in Daruba, South Morotai sub-district. Three beds and mattresses were provided to the Bere-Bere Puskesmas in North Morotai for its wardroom. In Tobelo, a polyclinic room at the public hospital was equipped with additional furniture.
An MSF-F medical team provided health education training on vaccination procedures to two nurses as well as training on delivery and pregnancy risks to three midwives of the Puskesmas in Kedi.This is the last week of MSF activities in North Maluku. MSF-F is withdrawing for deployment to other areas in the country.
Water and Sanitation
MDM constructed 14 MCKs (washing, bathing and latrine facilities) in Jailolo and Sahu sub-districts.
MSF-F distributed materials (cement, iron and carpentry tools) for the construction of MCKs and public latrines in eight villages in Loloda and Dama sub-districts. The organisation also distributed family kits to 909 households in seven villages in the two sub-districts above.
Distribution of Non-food Items
ACF distributed shelter kits in seven villages of Jailolo sub-district and six-month old chicken on Doi Island, Loloda sub-district.
7. WEST TIMOR
UN Security Assessment Mission
The report on the UN interagency security assessment mission to West Timor conducted from 8 to 14 July recommends the preparation and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the UN and the Indonesian government, specifying security responsibilities. Once the MOU is signed, the Phase 5 presently in effect in West Timor will be lowered to 4, with the exception of Belu district, which will remain in Phase 5. The report further recommends that a fully integrated interagency approach be mandatory while operating under the conditions of Phase 4 and delineates the security arrangements that must be in place before UN staff can return to West Timor.
In Jakarta, the Government convened 6 Working Group meetings involving a number of UN agencies and IOM to discuss issues related to the local settlement of East Timorese refugees. A plenary session on 3 August received feedback from the groups. While some of them have completed their work, a few issues will need further discussion, with the involvement of the NTT provincial government.
After some MPs discovered that at least 220 out of 3,200 hectares of forests had been cleared by East Timorese refugees, the Legislative Assembly of Belu district called on the provincial government to take action to prevent further destruction by the refugees of protected forests in the district.
Following the results of a survey by the health department, which concluded that some of the East Timorese refugees suffer from Japanese Encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain), the Health Research Bureau of Kupang held a seminar on 24-25 July to discuss measures to prevent the disease. Medical staff from Belu district, where most of the refugees are concentrated, attended.
The press in West Timor reported that a group of humanitarian workers of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) visited refugee camps in Atambua and found that the number of children becoming beggars in the camps had increased. The APCET workers were also deeply concerned by the deterioration of the health condition of the refugees, due to poor conditions in the camps, and stated that women and children were particularly affected.
On Saturday 28 July UN Peacekeeping troops on patrol at the border between East Timor and West Timor, some four kilometers southwest of the hamlet of Tilomar near Suai, killed a TNI soldier wearing civilian clothes after he fired a shot at them. An investigation into the incident has been launched. Indonesian authorities later acknowledged that their soldier had acted against military regulations when he left a security post to enter a neutral zone without the permission of the picketing officers and tried to cross into East Timor.
Kompas reported that the dry season, which began in July, has caused 11 rivers passing through Central Kalimantan province to dry up, disrupting the transportation of basic foodstuffs to the region. Basic foodstuffs such as rice are increasingly difficult to find in the province and when available, their price is too high for the local population. Rice sells at Rp. 3,500/kg - far higher than the normal price of Rp. 2,200/kg.
This report and all previous ones can be found on OCHA's website at www.reliefweb.int
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