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Indonesia: Humanitarian Crisis 'Explodes' In Aceh

Indonesia: Unicef Mounts Response As Humanitarian Crisis 'Explodes' In Aceh

Warning that a humanitarian crisis is "exploding" in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where renewed fighting has already displaced more than 20,000 children, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today called on the warring factions to ensure that education facilities are deemed zones of peace, and that they are not targeted, damaged or destroyed.

In a statement issued in Jakarta today, UNICEF said a dire crisis is looming in Aceh, where fighting erupted Monday following the collapse of weekend peace talks between the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement. According to the agency, 23,000 children have been displaced and nearly 300 schools destroyed because of renewed fighting.

UNICEF said it feared that up to 300,000 people could be displaced within three months and has targeted education, health facilities and child protection as areas of immediate concern. Noting that nearly 500 schools have been destroyed over the past two years, the agency has called on the parties to ensure that education facilities are deemed zones of peace, and not targeted or destroyed.

Starting Sunday, UNICEF plans to begin airlifting 20 tons of emergency health kits from Copenhagen to Jakarta to cover the basic needs of 200,000 people for three months, and 20,000 hygiene kits for displaced families. They will then be flown up to Aceh on Tuesday.

The agency also plans an initial shipment of some 300 "School-in-a-Box" emergency education kits and 50 emergency school tents for 15,000 children. Keeping in mind the magnitude of the destruction of schools in the province and the estimation that 60,000 children have been affected, many more emergency education kits and tents will be needed, UNICEF said, adding that in preparation for the new school year beginning in June, it will also provide essential supplies for more than 400 schools.

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