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Foreign Aid Workers in Sulawesi Ordered to Leave

Indonesia has ordered independent foreign aid workers to leave the earthquake zone and said foreign groups with staff in the disaster area on Sulawesi island should pull them out.

Despite facing the aftermath of a 7.5 quake and tsunami that Sulawesi on September 28, killing at least 2,000 people, some foreign groups say they have faced difficulties getting entry permits to bring in staff and equipment.

There have long been restrictions on the activity of foreign aid workers, and the national disaster agency, in a notice posted on Twitter, set the rules out for foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Foreign groups are not allowed to “go directly to the field” but must conduct all activities “in partnership with local partners”, it said.

“Foreign citizens who are working with foreign NGOs are not allowed to conduct any activity on the sites affected,” it said.

“Foreign NGOs who have deployed its foreign personnel are advised to retrieve their personnel immediately,” the agency said in its English-language notice.

No one knows how many people are missing, especially in areas of southern Palu devastated by soil liquefaction, but it could be as high as 5,000, the national disaster agency said.

About 70,000 people have been displaced.

Many of the displaced in Sulawesi are living in basic shelters in Palu and surrounding hills. A plan to relocate communities is being drawn up, the agency said.

The government has allocated US$37 million for quake relief and has said 20 countries have offered help.


Photo: Getty Images/AFP/Y. Wahil

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