Indonesia: January 8, 2005


  The death toll in Aceh is now about 100,000, out of a total population of four million. Over a million in Aceh are homeless and/or injured. Most of the population lives along the coasts, which accounts for the high casualty rate. The 50,000 army troops and police in Aceh suffered heavy losses (over a thousand dead, including family members) as well, because they are based along the coast as well. The Aceh separatist rebels suffered fewer losses, as most of them hide out in camps up in the mountains. But many of the 3,000 or so active rebels came down from those camps to check on kinfolk living on the coast. This has led to many encounters between armed rebels and police or soldiers. The government is unhappy with all the foreign NGO (Non-governmental Organizations) aid workers in Aceh, as these groups tend to be anti-government and willing to look the other way as the rebels partake of the aid. Many of the NGOs are also reluctant to work with military aid groups, partly because they tend to be rabidly anti-American, but also because they fear retribution from local rebels, who interpret working with the military as working "for" the military.




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