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Govt Advises Foreign Aid Workers to Leave Aceh

Indonesian goverment has adivised foreign aid workers in war-stricken Aceh — where thousands of people have fled their homes and food distribution has been disrupted — to leave because of security concerns. Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said local government and the Indonesian Red Cross would be responsible for distributing all humanitarian assistance in Indonesia’s westernmost province, where the military launched an offensive against separatist rebels eight days ago. “They should be aware of this policy and leave Aceh,” Marty told Reuters. “Their physical presence and direct contact in Aceh are not needed due to security concerns,” he added. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the five international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and four U.N. agencies operating in Aceh had not been banned from the province but were given little choice but to leave. “It didn’t directly say a ban but we have been firmly advised that it would be better for us to cease our functions in Aceh for security purposes,” the OCHA chief in Jakarta, Michael Elmquist, told Reuters, referring to a letter written by chief social welfare minister Yusuf Kalla. Full Story

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