Regulations for international NGOs that was issued by Indonesian government related to Central Sulawesi's disaster relief. (Photo courtesy of BNPB)

Indonesia Denies Curbs on Foreign Aid Workers in Central Sulawesi Disaster Areas


OCTOBER 11, 2018

Nusa Dua. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied earlier reports that the government is preventing foreign aid workers from entering disaster areas in Central Sulawesi, saying that they are only required to do so in consultation with national agencies.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) issued a regulation on international nongovernmental organizations that seek to provide assistance in Palu and Donggala, which were struck by a devastating earthquake and tsunami on Sept. 28.

The new regulation states that foreign NGOs may only enter disaster areas in coordination with local partners. It also requires foreign NGOs that are in the affected areas to register with related ministries, government agencies or the BNPB to be assigned local partners.

Independent foreign aid workers who have been working in Central Sulawesi are required to leave the province.

Government regulations on international relief agencies seeking to provide aid in disaster areas in Central Sulawesi. (Photo courtesy of BNPB)

"The policy on foreign assistance and foreign aid workers, or volunteers, is not intended to prevent aid or volunteers from entering Central Sulawesi, but to ensure that they first coordinate with the national [disaster management] team or agencies in Indonesia that lead the rescue and recovery efforts," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said in a statement on Wednesday.

He added that all assistance from foreign governments is coordinated through the Foreign Ministry, while relief efforts by international NGOs are coordinated by the Indonesian Red Cross.

"We do not want to end up in a situation where we are receiving assistance and already have adequate supplies or capacity on the ground, while we are not receiving the assistance we truly need, or capacity we lack on the ground," Arrmanatha explained.

The restrictions also apply to foreign aid workers and volunteers, who must obtain approval from the authorities before going to Central Sulawesi.

"We can end up in a situation where there would be so many foreign aid workers or volunteers with good intentions that it can actually hamper rescue and recovery efforts," he said.

Separately, Central Sulawesi Governor Longki Djonggala has directed the provincial disaster mitigation agency to gather all volunteers at the agency's offices to ensure better coordination, the regional government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Humanitarian Aid

International assistance meanwhile continues to flow in.

Humanitarian aid from the Qatari government arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta on Monday.

The 48 metric tons of aid, consisting of medical supplies and tents, was forwarded to Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, from where it will be distributed in disaster-affected areas in Central Sulawesi, the Qatari Embassy in Jakarta said in a statement.

The embassy said the Qatari Red Crescent and Qatar Charity, a leading humanitarian and development NGO in the Middle East, will visit the disaster areas to hand aid packages directly to victims.

The International Monetary Fund announced in Nusa Dua Bali on Monday that it aims to collect Rp 2 billion ($132,000) in donations for the victims of the Lombok and Central Sulawesi disasters.

The Indonesian Red Cross has a donation collection point at the entrance of the Bali International Conference Center in Nusa Dua, where the IMF-World Bank annual meetings are held this week.

Humanitarian aid provided by the Qatari government for victims of the Central Sulawesi disaster arrives in Jakarta on Monday. (Photo courtesy of the Qatari Embassy in Jakarta)