Tue, Jan 04, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Medical team to pull out of Indonesia over security

CNA , SINGAPORE

A medical team dispatched by Taiwan to Indonesia in the aftermath of the Dec. 26 tsunami disaster has decided to pull out because of Jakarta's failure to guarantee the safety of the team members, sources said yesterday.

While most of the team members have been ordered by Taipei to leave Indonesia, a few will stay until 1.5 tonnes of medical supplies arrive and handed over to the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassionate Relief Foundation charity group in Indonesia, the sources said.

The date of the pullout will be known today at the earliest after the team contacts the foundation, they said.

Although Taiwan is most willing to provide Indonesia with medical services and help with the prevention of outbreaks of infectious diseases, Taipei has made the decision to bring its people out as the Indonesian government cannot assure the physical safety of Taiwan medical workers posted in Aceh Province -- the worst-hit area -- and cannot offer them protection from attack by rebels, they said.

According to some team members, the Tzu Chi Foundation is currently the only organization with the ability to coordinate with the Indonesian military to transport relief supplies to the disaster areas in Aceh.

Experts from Taiwan's Center for Disease Control said diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, cholera, malaria and dengue fever could break out at any time in light of the bad sanitary conditions in Aceh after the disaster.

More than 90,000 people in Indonesia, mostly in Aceh, have been confirmed killed by the tsunami that were triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra Dec. 26.

The Taiwan medical team arrived in Indonesia last Thursday.

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