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Minister Asked To Ensure Aid Reaches Aceh

Minister of Foreign Affairs asked to ensure that international aid is allowed into Aceh

28 December, 2004.

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee is very concerned at a number of reports which suggest that Indonesia is delaying the admission of desperately needed humanitarian aid into the tsunami torn province of Aceh. Humanitarian aid must come before politics.

The letter is below.

Dear Phil Goff,

The Indonesia Human Rights Committee congratulates you and the Government for its prompt response the terrible humanitarian disaster caused by the tsunami.

We are concerned about the reports that Indonesia is hesitating to allow international aid agencies into Aceh. As you are aware the Indonesian province of Aceh has been off-limits to international aid agencies for months. A UN mission chief in Indonesia, Mr Mohamed Saleheen, was still waiting on permission from the Indonesian government to send in a disaster response team yesterday according to The Jakarta Post.

As you will appreciate any delay in a situation like this can spell more deaths. There must be an urgent need for medical aid and for clean drinking water to prevent the spread of disease.

We also fear that recovery from the tragedy will be more difficult in Aceh because of the pre-existing state of civil emergency and the ongoing military conflict. Reports say that thousands of people have been forced to move from the coast into the hills where they will be without food and likely to get caught up in the fighting. GAM has declared a unilateral ceasefire but armed clashes are still being recorded. The hospitals that will now be receiving the injured were already crowded with war victims.

We urge you to look into this situation and if it is confirmed that Indonesia is continuing to resist the entry of international aid agencies, we appeal to you to approach the Indonesian authorities and to allow the immediate entry of United Nations and other urgent disaster relief teams.

Yours sincerely,

Maire Leadbeater

for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee

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