Update 30 May 2003: To date, More than 60,000 children affected, 437 schools 437 of which 307 are primary schools have been destroyed. Nineteen health posts have also been burned down.
BANGKOK/JAKARTA, INDONESIA, 23 May 2003 - A humanitarian crisis is exploding in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where 23,000 children have been displaced and 425 schools destroyed because of renewed fighting in the province.
In two districts, Pidie, 207 schools have been destroyed (55 per cent of total) and Bireuen 131 schools (35 per cent).
UNICEF is calling on the warring factions to ensure that education facilities are deemed zones of peace, and that they are not targeted, damaged, or destroyed. Nearly 500 schools have been destroyed over the past two years.
UNICEF's plan of action focuses on education, health facilities and child protection.
Moving quickly to respond to the immediate needs of the children, UNICEF is planning a series of reponses. Sunday, 25 May, UNICEF will airlift 20 tons of emergency health kits for 200,000 people from Copenhagen to Jakarta. They will then be flown up to Aceh on Tuesday 27 May. The health kits contain 50 items from equipment to medicines. UNICEF is also prividing 20,000 hygiene kits for displaced famileis.
UNICEF and the Indonesian Government expect up to 300,000 people could be displaced within three months and believe these people are going to be displaced for a long period of time.
Three hundred “School-in-a-Box” (SiaB) emergency education kits and 50 emergency school tents, for 15,000 children. Keeping in mind the magnitude of the destruction of schools in the province and the estimation that 60,000 children have been affected, many more emergency education kits and tents will be needed. In preparation for the new school year beginning in June, UNICEF will also provide of essential school supplies for more than 400 schools.
In partnership with the NGO Non-Violence International, UNICEF is continuing to to implement a peace education curriculum based on Islamic and Acehnese principles, precepts and traditions.
Thousands of children are witnessing horrific violence, experiencing upheaval in their day to day lives and displacement. UNICEF together with the World Health Organisation are developing a network of counsellors and adults to ensure children receive specialized care and comfort. Teachers, parents community leaders and youth will also receive training on how to cope with traumatized children.
For more information, please contact:
John Budd, UNICEF Media, Jakarta, Tel: (62-21) 570-5816 ext. 298
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media, Bangkok, Tel: (662) 356-9407/(661) 906-0813
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York, Tel: ++ 212 326-7426