Lt. Col. Oh Chun Keong, right, mission commander of the Singapore Armed Forces, handing over a relief package to Lt. Col. Ali Sudibyo of the Indonesian Military (TNI) at Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Tuesday (02/10). (Photo courtesy of Singaporean Ministry of Defense)

Indonesia Declines Offers of Foreign Personnel to Assist in C. Sulawesi Disaster Relief Efforts


OCTOBER 04, 2018

Jakarta. Indonesia said it will not accept offers from other countries to send search and rescue personnel and medical staff, and emphasized that its current priorities are air transportation, water treatment equipment, generators and tents to improve emergency relief efforts following last week's twin disasters in Central Sulawesi.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Nugroho said on Wednesday (03/10) that 29 countries and four international organizations have offered assistance, but that the government has accepted offers from only 17, after assessing whether the aid that was offered.

A Singapore Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. (Photo courtesy of Singaporean Ministry of Defense)

"Several countries have offered to send search and rescue teams and medical personnel, [but] we decided not to accept such offers," Sutopo told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta, adding that Indonesia has sufficient capacity in terms of personnel.

The 2007 Disaster Mitigation Law further requires the government to guarantee the safety of foreign aid workers, which would stretch the resources of security personnel on the ground. Sutopo said Balikpapan in East Kalimantan will be used as an entry point for aircraft bringing in international aid.

Indonesia urgently needs cargo aircraft that can land on less than 2,000 meters of runway because of damage to one of the runways at Mutiara SIS Al-Jufrie Airport in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

Sutopo said Singapore, South Korea and Japan have offered to send two Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo planes each, while the United Kingdom will send an Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft.

The government has determined this would be adequate for the time being, especially because Balikpapan's Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman International Airport can only accommodate seven aircraft at a time.

Singapore's Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it delivered humanitarian supplies to Indonesia on Tuesday and that their C-130 Hercules aircraft would remain in the country "to support the Indonesian government to evacuate those displaced from disaster-hit areas."

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Central Sulawesi last week rose to 1,407 on Wednesday, along with 2,549 people injured and 113 reportedly missing.

More than 70,000 people have been left homeless, while nearly 66,000 homes have been either damaged or destroyed.

The BNPB said search and rescue teams have also gained access to all the affected areas, including Parigi Moutong and Sigi, though they have yet to cover the northern part of Donggala.