Mon, 07 Aug 2000

First Lady, children plan to channel aid to Maluku

JAKARTA (JP): First Lady Sinta Nuriyah and her daughters have offered to channel humanitarian assistance to Maluku, where thousands of children, women and the elderly are facing starvation and severe medical problems in the riot-torn provinces.

Alissa Qotrunnada "Lisa" Munawaroh Rahman, President Abdurrahman Wahid's eldest daughter, said the victims of the tragedy, from both Muslim and Christian sides, were in urgent need of assistance from the outside world.

Based on a 10-day visit to the provinces of Maluku and North Maluku, Lisa said many children had died as hospitals were unable to treat patients as in normal times and families of the victims had no idea where to go.

Lisa described their assistance as a humanitarian movement, and added that they would not touch other issues.

"They are our brothers and sisters, regardless of whether they are Muslims or Christians. Many of them are just innocent victims. Anyone who wants to help them, please do not hesitate to contact us or our NGO (non-governmental organization) friends," Lisa told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

According to Lisa, her mother was proud of the volunteers, including those from international organizations who risked their lives to facilitate humanitarian aid in the provinces.

Lisa noted that currently it was more difficult to send relief aid to Christian sides, because Muslims were now in a stronger position, and many refugees had to fled to the mountains or nearby provinces.

"But I can assure you that we will treat them equally. They are all Indonesian citizens," she noted.

She said two volunteers, Martha and Yani, were working at the State Palace to manage the assistance and were ready to provide information to donors.

The Air Force was also ready to transport assistance to Maluku, while police, Navy and Army personnel who were on duty there would help the volunteers to distribute the aid, she said.

"Please do not hesitate to contact them at the palace telephone number, 384 5001," Lisa appealed.

She said another organization, The Volunteer Network for the Maluku Crisis, whose office is on Jl. Masjid No. 6, Cipayung, East Jakarta, was also ready to channel aid to the provinces.

"Just call them at 84 8920." (prb)