People Displaced by Conflict Remain Largely Invisible Next to Tsunami Survivors

An estimated 120,000 Acehnese were forced from their homes by counter-insurgency operations prior to the tsunami and the subsequent peace agreement. Compared with those displaced by the tsunami, they have remained largely invisible, and their right to return remains unfulfilled in many cases.

Several thousand conflict IDPs (internally-displaced people) returning to the central highlands of Aceh have faced serious humanitarian problems, lack of adequate support, and even intimidation at the hands of military and police as well as local officials intent on silencing the IDPs’ collective voice. Some ended up returning to host families on the east coast.

The conflict IDPs continue to face a situation of considerable uncertainty, given poor conditions in make-shift camps, the difficulty in reaching and monitoring them in dispersed central highlands locations, and the failure of the government so far to involve them in longer-term livelihood and reconstruction projects.

Conflict IDPs also regard demands for a division of Aceh into three provinces with alarm, as this would threaten the entire peace process and undermine the conditions for their safe return and reintegration.

Eva-Lotta E. Hedman, “The Right to Return: IDPs in Aceh,” Forced Migration Review, No. 25 (May 2006), p. 70.
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