NZ should join call for Aceh ceasefire to help aid effort

The Greens are calling for New Zealand to add its voice to calls for a durable ceasefire in Aceh to allow aid for tsunami victims to flow freely.

“It’s shocking that aid is not reaching those who desperately need it because of Indonesian military restrictions,” Keith Locke, Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said.

“New Zealand should be joining other governments in pushing for an end to all fighting in Aceh. Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew brought up the matter during his talks in Jakarta earlier this week, and it would be good if our Prime Minister would also speak publicly on the matter.”

“A stable ceasefire is necessary if aid is to flow freely to the devastated villages along Aceh’s west coast,” Mr Locke said.

“Surely everyone has their hands full with the aid effort. The Indonesian military should put aside their guns and concentrate on that.

“Military restrictions on aid delivery should be rejected by the international community. The Red Cross and other aid groups have to be non-partisan, and can’t go around Aceh accompanied by troops, as the Indonesian government wants them to.

“New Zealanders have responded with great compassion to the tsunami appeals, and want their donations to be used in the best way. Relief to the people of Aceh is too important to be frustrated by the Indonesian military’s narrow agenda, which is to reassert its control over the province.”