Mon, 09 Oct 2000

What has the govt done for refugees?

By Santi W.E. Soekanto

JAKARTA (JP): Who's responsible for the nearly 800,000 refugees -- two thirds of them children -- facing hardship in various camps in Indonesia?

The National Disaster Management Coordination Board (Bakornas PB), a "non-structural" agency answering directly to the President, is the body in charge of people affected by both natural and unnatural disasters. Its tasks include prevention, evacuation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The body is chaired by coordinating minister for social welfare, and manned by the chairman of the National Social Welfare Agency (BKSN), the home minister, health minister, housing minister, education minister, communications minister and other relevant ministers, the military commander plus various governors of the affected areas.

The agency decides the kind of assistance that is given to the refugees. Basically, emergency assistance is given for the first two weeks following the occurrence of the disaster. The assistance is usually in the form of 400 grams of rice per person (at Rp 1,000 per kg) plus Rp 1,500 in cash for side dishes.

The BKSN decided, for instance, that refugees in Aceh were to be given assistance for 75 days. North Sumatran refugees were given help for 70 days, East Javanese for 70 days, West Kalimantan 70 days, Southeast Sulawesi 70 days, South Sulawesi 70 days and East Nusa Tenggara 70 days while refugees in Maluku were given 90 days of assistance.

According to data at the Center for the Welfare of Indonesian Children (YKAI), these guidelines do not always stand. Assistance to Maluku and West Kalimantan, for instance, has been extended now to almost one year.

A recent report of the YKAI listed a number of programs launched by various institutions to help the refugees. The Ministry of National Education, for instance, is currently studying the possibility of establishing Maluku Alternative Education (PAM) for refugee children in the islands.

Initiated following several meetings with various NGOs from both Muslim and Christian groups, PAM will also include supplementary food programs for the children, trauma counseling and a specific program geared for older children.

The office of State Minister of Transmigration is in charge of relocating and assisting refugees in new settlements for up to one year.

The refugees from Sambas, West Kalimantan, for instance, were resettled in Tebang Kacang, Pontianak regency, in the same province, and on Madura Island. The Madurese refugees were given housing and a one-hectare of land each.

The office also distributed a total of 2,188 units of housing from Japan to refugees in Aceh. It will also resettle 4,250 families to 11 provinces.

The National Commission for the Protection of Children, a non- governmental organization, set up a Trauma Center in East Nusa Tenggara. Its activists investigate incidents and screen children who have experienced physical and psychological trauma, and engage in various methods to help the children express their pain. Some of the activists are trained to give therapy.

The commission, in addition, also organized play therapy, transition schooling and training for trainers.

Another organization involved with the refugees is the Lutheran World Service which has opened a "Tent School" in the Noelbaki refugee camp in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

Yet another organization involved, according to YKAI, is the Medicine Sans Frontier whose activists trained local paramedics to provide post traumatic stress disorder for refugees.