Indonesia demands foreign NGOs remove staff | News | DW | 09.10.2018
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Indonesia demands foreign NGOs remove staff

Jakarta has asked international rescue groups to cease their work on earthquake-ravaged Sulawesi island. Foreign workers had complained of a lack of access to the affected sites and confusing instructions.

The government of Indonesia on Tuesday asked foreign NGOs helping with rescue efforts to collect their staff and leave the country. The news came as a shock to aid workers who saw their Indonesian counterparts struggling to keep up with the devastation left by the September 28 earthquake and tsunami that hit the island of Sulawesi.

"Foreign NGOs who have deployed its foreign personnel are advised to retrieve their personnel immediately," said the national disaster agency on its website.

Indonesia has traditionally shied away from accepting outside help in the wake of disasters. Foreign organizations were not permitted to come help after an earthquake struck the island of Lombok earlier this year.

Worries about 'traumatized' Indonesian rescue workers

Although Jakarta had opened the door for international rescue efforts in the immediate wake of the catastrophe, foreign workers complained about lack of access to the necessary permits for bringing in staff and equipment, and said they have often received conflicting instructions.

"Foreign citizens who are working with foreign NGOs are not allowed to conduct any activity on the sites affected," Indonesia's disaster agency had written on Twitter.

Australian national broadcaster ABC reported that some foreign rescue personnel were concerned that their "traumatized" and overworked Indonesian counterparts would be left in the lurch.

Around 2,000 people have been confirmed dead after the twin disasters, and as many as 5,000 more are feared to have been buried in mudslides that engulfed entire neighborhoods near the hard-hit town of Palu.

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