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Indonesia Bulletin No. 6

19-04-2005 Operational Update No 6

ICRC activities in Aceh province

 General situation  


The tsunami produced by the undersea earthquake of 26 December 2004 has taken a devastating toll on the coast of Sumatra: to date, the bodies of 126,915 people have been retrieved and buried in 15 districts in Aceh province, with a further 37,063 still missing (this figure was revised sharply downward after the recent registration of displaced persons). In addition, 514,150 homeless people are spread over 21 districts within the province; most of them (480,261) are living with host families, the remainder have found accommodation in temporary camps.

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and other organized volunteers have now removed most of the dead, but their services to that end are still required in some remote villages in which returnees are only just starting to clear the debris in the struggle to begin their lives anew.

Reconstruction work continues on the main road connecting settlements along the west coast, with more than 50 bridges to be rebuilt. Most places have now been almost cleared of debris. The power is on, but access to safe water remains a concern. The emergency officially ended on 26 March, and government and humanitarian organizations are currently concentrating on the coordination, planning and implementation of the initial phase of the reconstruction process. 

The island has been regularly hit by aftershocks since December, but on 28 March another strong earthquake struck: measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, its epicentre close to Nias Island, the quake clai med additional lives and caused displacement, traumatic stress and structural damages on the island and in Aceh Singkil, Simeulue and Aceh Selatan districts. The ICRC and the PMI together provided emergency non-food relief items to the population of Singkil, on the coast.

All the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement - the International Federation, the National Societies and the ICRC – are now working together to help the PMI come to the aid of those affected by both earthquakes.


 Overview of the ICRC’s main activities in the province  


The ICRC is winding up the emergency phase of its humanitarian operation for the tsunami's victims. It continues to work with the PMI to:

  • distribute reconstruction and clean-up kits for communities returning to their villages of origin;

  • clean wells in those villages;

  • provide health care (including a field hospital) and supplies to existing medical facilities;

  • restore family contacts and reunite unaccompanied children with their families.

The ICRC is now turning its attention to building coordination mechanisms for humanitarian aid within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. In the meantime, it has resumed its pre-tsunami activities related to the conflict situation, conducting visits to detainees in accordance with ICRC standard procedure and providing members of the Indonesian armed forces arriving in the province with short briefings on the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the basic principles of international humanitarian law prior to their deployment in the field.

 Since 26 December, the ICRC has:  


  • established a fully operational field hospital (equipment and initial staff were provided by the Norwegian Red Cross) which has performed 478 operations and treated nearly 8,000 outpatients;

  • provided relief supplies to about 311,500 beneficiaries (non-food items included household kits, tents, tarpaulins, hygiene, baby kits, sets of underwear and community clean-up and reconstruction kits; short-term food distributions were also made to 30,000 beneficiaries pending the establishment by other humanitarian agencies of their supply lines);

  • cleaned 280 wells in villages in order to provide safe water, one of the basic conditions for the return of displaced persons;

  • facilitated 3,132 first family contacts in the wake of the tsunami and reunited 28 unaccompanied children with close relatives;

  • held five sessions to provide basic information on the Red Cross and the fundamental rules of humanitarian law to Indonesian troops newly arrived in Aceh;

  • provided detainees with hygiene kits and other necessities and enabled them to re-establish contact with their families after the tsunami.

 More detailed information and statistics  


 Cooperation with the PMI and other members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement  

In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, the ICRC provided material, logistic and financial support for P MI activities. Initially, the PMI focused on evacuating the dead and distributing relief supplies. Cooperation has now moved into other realms; for example, ten PMI professional volunteers (doctors and nurses) are working at the PMI/ICRC field hospital.

Other components of the Movement have also been operational in Aceh province since the tsunami. These include the International Federation and numerous National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. While some of the emergency response activities conducted by the German, Spanish, French and Japanese Red Cross Societies and the Turkish Red Crescent are slowly being phased out, new Red Cross teams are planning projects aimed at supporting PMI rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. At the moment, 20 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as the International Federation, the ICRC and the PMI are developing the mechanisms and regulations for the implementation of future programmes to, for instance, rehabilitate the PMI ambulance service, develop mobile health clinics, organize psychosocial support programmes, rehabilitate water supplies, reconstruct homes, schools and health centres, and restore the PMI’s infrastructure and enhance its emergency response capacity.

 Restoration of family links  


Since 6 January 2005, the ICRC and the PMI have enabled family links to be restored in 3,132 cases, mainly via satellite phone. Their teams have been active in all the districts of Aceh province affected by the disaster, registering 16,597 survivors on " I am alive " lists and 21,519 missing persons on " I am looking for " lists. Lists of both kinds have been printed in booklets and on posters distributed through the ICRC and PMI network and published in three newspapers, allowing people to scan the names for their loved one s. Now, almost four months after the disaster, use of the lists will be scaled down and replaced by Red Cross Messages when necessary and appropriate.

The tracing teams have registered 39 unaccompanied children throughout the province and reunited 28 with their parents or other close family members.



After the tsunami, visits were carried out to the 13 places of detention run by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and the Police to assess medical and water/habitat needs. Appropriate assistance was then delivered (1,740 hygiene kits, tarpaulins, tents, etc.).

Follow-up visits to six places of detention have been carried out in full compliance with the ICRC’s standard procedures.

 Promotion of international humanitarian law  


Five presentations have been given to more than 3,000 Indonesian troops on their arrival in the province prior to their deployment in the field. The troops were reminded about the basic rules of humanitarian law and informed about ICRC and PMI working principles and activities.

 Emergency assistance and economic security  


The ICRC has distributed 56,300 household and 7,218 family kits directly to families in places of displacement throughout the province. It has provided 68,137 families with other non-food items: 113,395 mats, 225,381 blankets, 57,975 tarpaulins, 29,000 2-litre bottles of kerosene, 3,226 sets of underwear, 1,693 baby kits, 608 tents and 2,490 hygiene kits.

Short-term food assistance in the form of rice, cooking oil, noodles, sardines, sugar, salt, milk and biscuits has been distributed to 36,000 beneficiaries, and 18,202 families have received 300 community clean-up kits so that they can clear their villages of debris. In addition, 8,452 families scattered along the east coast have received 170 construction kits to start rebuilding their houses.

 Health services   


The ICRC/PMI field referral hospital in Banda Aceh has been operational since mid-January. The 100-bed tent hospital was donated by the Norwegian Red Cross and has been providing surgical, medical, paediatric, obstetric and physical rehabilitation services for the general population. At least 32 urgent cases have been evacuated from all along the west coast to the hospital. Of 685 patients admitted, 509 needed surgery and 147 treatment of another kind. The hospital’s staff has performed 478 operations and 18 caesareans and delivered 53 children. The number of out-patient consultations numbers 7,950, X-rays 689 and lab tests 731. The occupancy rate has held steady at 50 per cent.

Regular deliveries of much needed medical supplies have been made to Bierun, Aceh Utara and Aceh Timur on the north coast, keeping health centres and hospitals stocked with basic antibiotics, dressing materials, fluids and equipment.

The facility for discharged and displaced patients in need of medical follow-up operated for the requisite five weeks, accommodating a total of 20 discharged patients and their family members.

 Water and sanitation   

The ICRC provided 53 tonnes of chemicals to the local water board in Banda Aceh to ensure that the population had safe drinking water.

The ICRC/PMI hospital and two temporary camps are being provided with 70,000 litres of water daily. Garbage collection has also been organized.

Since people started returning to their devastated villages, 256 wells have been cleaned and protected in the villages of Aceh Besar. In Aceh Utara and Bierun, 24 wells have been made usable and two others constructed. Clean water has been provided in two public places as well.


 For further information, please contact:  

 Bernt Appeland, ICRC Aceh, tel. ++ 62 811 982 504 / ICRC Jakarta, tel. ++ 62 21 720 72 52  

 Vincent Lusser, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++ 41 22 730 24 26/++ 41 79 217 32 64