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Indonesia Bulletin No. 7 - 26 May 2005

26-05-2005 Operational Update

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, according to government figures, 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.

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. On 18 May, the government announced that Aceh's one-year state of civil emergency had been lifted.

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 claimed additional lives and caused displacement, traumatic stress and structural damage on the island and in Aceh Singkil, Simeulue and Aceh Selatan districts. The ICRC and the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) together provided emergency non-food relief ite ms for 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 – continue to assist the PMI in its efforts to come to the aid of those affected by both earthquakes.

 Overview of the ICRC’s main activities in the province  


Although the emergency phase of its humanitarian operation for the tsunami victims is coming to an end, the ICRC continues to work with the PMI to:

- clean wells in villages for residents who have returned and need reliable access to safe water;

- provide health care and supplies for existing medical facilities;

- restore family contacts and reunite unaccompanied children with their relatives.

The ICRC has resumed its pre-tsunami activities related to the conflict situation, conducting visits to detainees in accordance with its standard procedures 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. Regarding the tsunami response, the ICRC is now mostly involved in supporting coordination mechanisms for humanitarian aid within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

 Since 26 December, the ICRC has:  


  • established a fully operational field hospital (equipment and initial staff were provided by the Norwegian Red Cross) that performed over 700 surgical operations and treated over 10,000 outpatients (the hospital ceased its activities on 10 May 2005);

  • provided relief supplies for about 290,000 beneficiaries (non-food items such as household kits, tents, hygiene items, underwear, baby kits, and community clean-up and reconstruction kits) and carried out short-term food distributions for more than 36,000 beneficiaries pending the establishment of supply lines by other humanitarian agencies;

  • cleaned 545 wells in villages so as to provide safe water, one of the basic conditions for the return of displaced persons;

  • facilitated 3,400 family contacts in the wake of the tsunami and reunited 34 unaccompanied children with close relatives;

  • held eight sessions to provide basic information on the Red Cross and the fundamental rules of humanitarian law for 5,000 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.

 Further details and figures  


 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 PMI activities. Initially, the PMI focused on evacuating the dead and distributing relief supplie s. 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.

To date, more than 90 projects aimed at supporting PMI rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts have been approved within the Movement Coordination Framework. Some 25 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as the International Federation, the ICRC and the PMI have contributed to the implementation of programmes to, for instance, rehabilitate the PMI ambulance service; organize psychosocial support; restore water supplies; reconstruct homes, schools and health-care centres; and rehabilitate the PMI’s infrastructure and enhance its emergency response capacity.

The PMI, the Federation and the ICRC have signed, on behalf of the entire Movement, an agreement with the government's newly formed implementing agency for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Aceh and Nias. The agreement confirmed the Movement's commitment to providing the people of Aceh with 600 million US dollars'worth of support in a range of sectors. It is seen as a significant step in positioning the Movement as a key player in the recovery and rehabilitation phase of the tsunami operation.

 Restoration of family links  

Since 6 January 2005, the ICRC and the PMI have helped restore family links in 3,400 cases, mainly via satellite phone. Their teams have been active in all the districts of Aceh province affected by the disaster, registering almost 19,000 survivors on " I am alive " lists and almost 26,000 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 ones. Now, almost five months after the disaster, the focus will be shifted from the lists to Red Cross messages wherever possible.

The tracing teams have registered 46 unaccompanied children throughout the province and reunited 34 with their parents or other close family members.


After the tsunami, visits were carried out in 13 places of detention run by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights and the national police to assess medical and water/habitat needs. Appropriate assistance was then delivered, including basic shelter material (tarpaulins, linoleum, mats), underwear, hygiene kits and recreational material (e.g. volleyballs and nets).

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

 Promotion of international humanitarian law  

Eight presentations were given to almost 5,000 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 carried out direct distributions of essential household items, underwear and hygiene kits to 56,562 displaced families throughout the province. It has also supplied tents for 2,400 families.

Short-term food assistance consisting of rice, cooking oil, noodles, sardines, sugar, salt, milk and biscuits has been distributed to 36,383 beneficiaries. Some 18,202 households have received community clean-up kits so that they can clear their villages of debris. In addition, 10,000 households scattered along the eastern coast have received reconstruction kits to start rebuilding their houses.

 Health services   


Regular deliveries of much-needed medical supplies have been made to Bireuen, Aceh Utara and Aceh Timur on the northern coast, keeping health centres and hospitals provided with basic antibiotics, dressing materials and medical equipment.

The ICRC/PMI referral hospital set up in Banda Aceh in mid-January was closed down on 10 May, two weeks ahead of schedule, owing to damage caused by heavy rains and strong winds. While it was in service, the 100-bed tent hospital, donated by the Norwegian Red Cross, provided surgical, medical, paediatric, obstetric and physical rehabilitation care for the general population. This included at least 32 emergency cases brought in by helicopter from along the coast. Surgery was performed on 706 of the 878 patients admitted, more than 1,000 X-rays were taken and over 10,000 out-patient consultations were given. The occupancy rate held steady at 50 per cent.

 Water and sanitation   

In Aceh Besar, 326 wells have been cleaned and in Banda Aceh, 130 tonnes of aluminium sulphate and three tonnes of chlorine have been delivered. The ICRC has also been supplying clean water to two temporary relocation centres and is currently trucking up to 100,000 litres a day for some 2,000 people. Drainage has been improved in one of the centres and similar work is being envisaged in another. Latrine rehabilitation was initiated in mid-May and work has already been completed on five lat rines in the village of Lam Puuk.

In northern Aceh, 219 wells have been cleaned, three new wells sunk and one latrine built. An artesian well serving 125 families has been rehabilitated and the water and sanitation facilities of an orphanage have been repaired. Additionally, 175,000 litres of fresh water have been trucked on a weekly basis for community consumption since February and 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate have recently been ordered for the water board in Lhokseumawe, which has already received an identical shipment along with one tonne of chlorine.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Rafiullah Qureshi, ICRC Aceh, tel.: ++ 62 811 138 375/ ICRC Jakarta, tel. ++ 62 21 739 67 56  

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