Indonesia’s military has announced it is to restrict aid workers’ movements in the tsunami-ravaged region of Aceh. Foreign humanitarian staff will now need special permission to venture outside two large cities in the province, Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. Authorities say they can not guarantee relief workers safety in many parts amid fears of attacks by militants who have been waging a long-running insurgency in the area.
Armed forces chief General Endriartono Sutarto stressed that the measures were being put in place because he did not want any of the helpers to be killed. The separatist Free Aceh Movement has said, however, that it is supporting efforts to deliver aid to those in need.
But a different group, the Islamic Defenders’ Front, warned foreign aid agencies not to stray from their humanitarian mission – saying a hidden agenda of colonialism, imperialism or missionary work could be “very, very dangerous.”