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Indonesia: Red Cross assists internally displaced Madurese

08-03-2001 News Release 01/09

The violence that broke out two weeks ago in Central Kalimantan province, Borneo, between indigenous Dayaks and Madurese settlers has begun to abate. The camp for displaced Madurese set up in the town of Sampit is now empty, the last evacuation having taken place aboard two vessels provided by the Indonesian authorities. During the evacuation process, the Indonesian Red Cross and the ICRC provided bottled water for all those making the 24-hour journey from Sampit to East Java.

With the last group of displaced people having left Borneo, the emergency phase in Central Kalimantan is now winding down. But some 800 km across the Java sea, only half of the evacuees arriving in Surabaya are being met by relatives. Those with no one to pick them up are driven to transit centres, where food and family parcels supplied by the Red Cross await them. Within a matter of hours, transport is provided to take them to their final destination on the island of Madura.

Once they arrive, however, many of the displaced Madurese have to settle with host families and this may soon become a burden for the local population. The situation is particularly difficult for villagers who, two years ago, already experienced the arrival of many displaced families after an ethnic conflict erupted in Sambas, West Kalimantan, and have few resources to cope with the new influx. A Red Cross team is currently assessing the situation on the island to see what can be done for the recent arrivals.

At the camp in Sampit, the local authorities, with ICRC support, had constructed 20 pit latrines, eight wells and four showers to ensure a minimum degree of sanitation in the crowded area. Medical assistance was provided by the Indonesian Red Cross, which set up two outpatient clinics in the camp, also with ICRC support. The clinics, open 12 hours a day, were staffed by four doctors and four nurses, and provided consultations and medicines free of charge. The National Society also distributed 20,000 bars of soap and organized the collection of garbage by volunteer camp dwellers, in order to prevent the outbreak of disease.