Rabu, 19 Juli 2006

TSUNAMI SURVIVORS ACCEPT FATE WITH GREAT ENDURANCE by Fardah



     Jakarta, July 19, 2006 (ANTARA) - A magnitude 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated Aceh and Nias (North Sumatra) on December 26, 2004, caused almost unbearable grief and suffering among the population. Many people were kiled or went missing while survivors had to cope with injuries, or the loss of loved ones or property.
     The deadly tsunami from the Indian Ocean killed around 168,000 people in Indonesian western-most province of Aceh and Nias (North Sumatra), rendered almost one million people homeless and destroyed around 80 percent of infrastructures in the worst-hit areas. Some 130,000 people were believed still missing due to the huge waves.

       The Indonesian government has set up a Nias and Aceh Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) to mainly deal with redevelopment of infrastructures and houses in the tsunami-devastated cities and villages, with funds coming from the Indonesian government and foreign countries? donations.
     Among the good news coming from the reconstruction works were the facts that most of the surviving children have gone back to school.
    A number of new houses have been built for displaced people. Several missing children have reunited with surviving fathers or mothers, and hundreds of orphans have been accommodated in new dormitories built thanks to foreign and domestic donors? financial assistance.
   However, it is sad to know that currently, more than 18 months after the deadly disaster, hundreds of tsunami survivors are still living in emergency tents and barracks, often in a very poor condition without proper sanitation and clean water supply.
    Living in emergency tents exposes women and children especially to crimes. There were reports of rape and molestation   in IDP camps although underreporting is obvious as rape victims are reluctant to report to the police for fear of  threats to their safety.
    Refugees complained that BRR have been complaining that BRR has been very slow in implementing the reconstruction works.   "Over a year after the tsunami disaster, the BRR has been too slow in carrying out its tasks,? said Cut Darnita, a former refugee staying at a camp in the TVRI complex, Aceh Besar, Banda Aceh, recently.
    She said although BRR had claimed that it had built a lot of houses  many survivors were still living  in makeshift tents and barracks.
   In response to the complaints, the government has expressed its commitment to accelerating reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
    Indonesian officials excused themselves that the recovery and development works in Aceh and Nias were quite slow because the destruction caused by tsunami was  enormous , much worse than the tsunami?s devastation in other countries such as India and Sri Lanka.

                               Corruption free
    Hundreds of survivors living in emergency tents in Banda Aceh recently expressed their hope that the rehabilitation and reconstruction work could do their work faster and be free from corruption.
   The BRR's Anti-corruption unit Adek Dikdik Iskandar confirmed that he had received a number of complaints from the refugees concerning alleged corruption.
    "Our findings from the field show that many refugees are very much hoping that BRR deals with corruption seriously," said Adek Dikdik recently.
   The Ani-corruption unit has received information on 315 alleged corruption cases up to December 24, 2005.
    In a response to criticism on the slow phase of housing construction, BRR Chairman Kuntoro Mangkusubroto early this year said, "It's normal if the people said that the BRR is slow in handling housing development. Indeed we just completed a quarter of the total houses to be built in Aceh."
    BRR plans to construct 67,000 houses in 2006. According to Kuntoro, BRR is committed to carry out its work with good planning and will not tolerate any corruption or collusion.
    "Our motto is `zero corruption?. Corruption will not be tolerated," he stated.
      The realization of house reconstruction program in Aceh to now was reported to have failed to meet the target.  A spokesperson of Aceh provincial administration office, Khairani told journalists in January 2006, only 12,017 out of the last year's targeted 30,000 houses had been built in Aceh.
       He said at the end of July 2007, at least 130,000 units of houses were targeted to have been constructed.  "We can't build houses faster because of unclear status of land ownership and boundary of the lands," said Khairani.
    A local legislator, Jamaluddin T Muku, hoped that the anti-corruption campaign announced by BRR and the Aceh governor was not merely lip-service.
    The central government has allocated development funds amounting to Rp17.5 trillion (around US$1.8 billion) in the 2006 state budget for house reconstruction.
    "It's a big amount of money. If it is not overseen  tightly, the funds will be wasted and Aceh's suffering  will continue,"   said Muku.
    He said  BRR personnel might not be corrupt but it would be the same if the companies winning the project contracts were not honest.
    A local NGO called the Anti-Corruption People's Movement (GeRAK) recently announced that it had found an indication of manipulation in humanitarian aid projects in Sabang, Pulau Weh, sometimes even involving a few NGOs.
    Aceh Acting Governor Mustafa Abubakar when sworn in early 2006, declared that the year 2006 must be a corruption free year in Aceh, in the mid of 2006, Aceh would be free from makeshift tents and barracks.
         However,  hundreds of tsunami survivors on Simeulue Island, Simeulue District, Aceh, are still living in makeshift tents and emergency barracks up to July 2006.
    "They remain staying in emergency tents made by themselves from used plastic sheets. The conditions they live in are  appalling," Yan Irawansyah, a resident of Semeulue, said on July 10, 2006.
    The self-made tents are at present in poor condition and have a lot of leaks as the plastic wheets had been torn apart.
    The refugees had been waiting for new houses promised to be constructed for them by the government and foreign donors.
   He said  the target set by Aceh Governor Mustafa Abubakar to make the province free from emergency tents in June 2006, was valid for the Aceh mainland, not for Simeulue Island which has not received adequate attention.
      Another sad story is from Aceh Jaya district, where of the targeted 15,000 houses to be built, only 1,678 houses were constructed, or about 11 percent of the target. In Teunom sub-district, for instance, of the 2,840 houses to be constructed, only around 100 houses were ready.
      Again, a promise unfulfilled and the tsunami survivors still living in makeshift tents, have to continue endure their sufferings, but this time is not from another tsunami, but from empty promises, ignorance, and probably corruption. - end


Fardah. Jakarta, July 19, 2006

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