Indonesia: ICRC activities in Nangroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD) province
31-10-2004 Operational Update
ICRC activities in NAD province, suspended in August 2003, were partially resumed in December 2003. The limited presence of international staff, however, continues to hamper the development of full humanitarian activities on behalf of the civilian population affected by the conflict.
Although there has been some improvement in the area of security, with the situation downgraded to a civil emergency in May 2004, the educational, health and economic infrastructure remains highly fragile in the province. According to official figures over 50% of the population live in poverty. The population of displaced people remains stable at around 3,000 and there is little immediate prospect of their returning home.
The lack of medical personnel, due often to security concerns, is one of the main reasons hindering the improvement of the difficult health situation. Many people suffer mental disorders or traumas related to the conflict.
In addition to man-made violence, the people of NAD have to endure natural disasters such as floods, typhoons and fires.
Detention: The ICRC has recently resumed visits to persons detained at eight police stations in the province. It has also received the authorization to visit detainees held in detention facilities under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and hopes to commence visits soon, with the aim of assessing their detention conditions and conveying observations to the authorities responsible. Since the beginning of 2004, ICRC delegates also visited 224 detainees transferred from the province to several detention centres on Java.
Protection of the civilian population: In addition to its involvement in the release of 151 persons under the control of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in mid May, the ICRC continues to monitor the situation of civilian groups potentially at risk as a result of the armed conflict. The ICRC confidentially conveys its findings to the concerned parties to the conflict.
Tracing and Mailing Services and restoring family links: The well established system of cooperation between the ICRC and the Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI), enabled the exchange of Red Cross messages between Acehnese detainees held in prisons in Java and their families. The ICRC has further developed its family visit programme allowing destitute Acehnese family members (two family members per detainee) to visit their relatives detained in prisons in Java. This year, a total of 129 family members have visited 64 detainees in the framework of this programme.
Assistance distribution: The ICRC, in cooperation with the PMI, provides non-food assistance on a regular basis to the civilian population who are either directly affected by the conflict or by natural disasters in conflict areas. So far this year, about 900 families (more than 3,500 beneficiaries) displaced in camps or st aying with host-families received household items, hygiene items and material for shelter. In addition, shelter and reconstruction material was distributed to around 100 families whose houses were destroyed by fire, floods or typhoons. Furthermore, the ICRC has emergency stocks at its central warehousing facilities in NAD and Surabaya for the water and sanitation needs of 30'000 people and to assist a further 20'000 people with household, hygiene and shelter material.
Medical assistance: Following consultations with the Ministry of Health and medical staff of major health facilities, the ICRC distributed general medical assistance to 11 hospitals and 10 Health Centres (Puskesmas) in areas particularly affected by the conflict. It has further sponsored five medical professionals from NAD province to attend the Health Emergencies in Large Populations course (HELP) in Jakarta. The ICRC also maintains a stock of medical supplies in Banda Aceh.
Support for the activities of PMI: The ICRC regularly provides evacuation and first aid material to the chapter and 19 branches of the Indonesia Red Cross to help them to treat and evacuate conflict victims and casualties. In order to help PMI staff and volunteers cope with a difficult and at times dangerous working environment, the ICRC has facilitated a psychological support workshop for 19 participants from various PMI branches in NAD province. It has provided training in the field of hygiene promotion for 31 staff and volunteers who work on improving hygiene conditions of displaced populations. The ICRC also trained PMI staff in procedures to help with the identification of missing persons. Finally, the ICRC supports the PMI to strengthen its capacities both at headquarters and in NAD, mainly in the fields of assistance, tracing services, dissemination and Movement coordination.
Pre-deployment dissemination sessions to the armed forces: The ICRC and the PMI are regularly invited by the armed forces to provide pre-deployment sessions on basic international humanitarian law, in particular relating to the protection of the civilian population. This is usually done just prior to the field deployment of newly arrived troops. Since the beginning of the state of emergency over 15,000 troops have followed such sessions.
Dissemination sessions to regional police forces: The ICRC has toured 13 regional police districts to disseminate to over 1,000 officers and troops basic IHL and human rights concepts and to present, together with the PMI, Red Cross activities and working modalities.
In Indonesia as a whole, the ICRC has currently a total of 116 national and international staff engaged in developing various programmes in the field of protection and tracing, assistance, health, dissemination/communication as well as supporting the National Society. Besides a strong cooperation with PMI, the ICRC has a close working relationship with the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies which has been present in Indonesia since 1999 focusing on disaster preparedness and response and organisational development of PMI. Partner National Societies such as the Australian, Danish, and Netherlands RC also support PMI in developing community-based health and disaster preparedness programmes.