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Sunday, March 26, 2017
Concern as Indonesia launches military offensive in Aceh
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¬†Aid agency CAFOD is increasingly worried over the situation unfolding in the Indonesian province of Aceh after the Indonesian military launched a major offensive against separatist rebels. Peace talks in Tokyo aimed at ending the 26 year long conflict between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Indonesian government collapsed at the weekend. GAM demands independence for their resource-rich province from Jakarta,s rule. The fighting pits the 3000 rebels against the 28,000 Indonesian security forces and police. CAFOD says past military operations in Aceh have resulted in over 10,000 casualties, the vast majority civilians. It is calling on both sides of the conflict to uphold the Geneva Conventions in protecting civilians and ensuring the safety of those displaced by the fighting. An estimated 15,000 people have already been displaced because of the recent violence and CAFOD fears that the figure will grow. The agency provides an emergency grant of £50,000 a year to the Jesuit Refugee Service for their work with internally displaced people in Aceh. Head of CAFOD's Asia programme Catherine Sexton said: "It is very difficult to get food and medical supplies to people displaced by the fighting. Both belligerents in the conflict must ensure that aid can get safely to those that need it most." CAFOD's partner Raihana Diany, Chairwoman of the Organisation of Acehnese Women for Democracy (ORPAD,) said: "It is essential for negotiations to continue and we deeply regret the failure of the talks in Tokyo."
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