Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Ambon remains restricted to foreigners

AMBON: Despite the improving security condition in Ambon, the local administration has yet to lift the restriction for foreigners to enter the formerly conflict-torn province as it is still technically under a state of civil emergency.

"The decree banning foreigners from entering the province remains as long as the province is still under a state of emergency," Ambon immigration office chief Wiryono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

He said his office had, in the past two months, denied entry to 12 foreigners who had no clear purpose in visiting the province, where conflict between Muslims and Christians has killed over 5,000 people since it broke out in January 1999.

He, however, said foreign humanitarian workers were still allowed to enter the province. Currently, 148 foreign humanitarian workers are in the province.

Wiryono said those foreigners had the clearance from Ambon state of emergency administrator Sinyo Harri Sarundajang to support the reconstruction of the province.

The state of civil emergency was imposed in the province in 2000 following prolonged sectarian clashes. The central government is currently evaluating the possibility of lifting the emergency status. --JP