Japan Contributes $8.6 million to IOM's Aceh Peace Efforts


In a significant step towards the
consolidation of peace, security and community stabilization in one
of Asia's oldest trouble-spots, the Japanese government yesterday
contributed one billion yen (US$8.6 million) to IOM's programmes
supporting the Indonesian government's peace-building efforts in
Aceh province.

On 15 August 2005, the Indonesia government
and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) signed a Memorandum of
Understanding in Helsinki, Finland, ending a three-decade-long
separatist conflict in Aceh that claimed more than 12,000 civilian

The historic agreement, which resulted in GAM
handing over 840 weapons and the phased withdrawal of thousands of
Indonesian troops and police, came just eight months after an
earthquake and tsunami destroyed large swathes of Aceh, killing an
estimated 160,000 people.

At the request of the Indonesian government
and with the financial support of the European Commission, IOM is
implementing a reinsertion and reintegration package for 3,000
former GAM combatants and roughly 2,000 amnestied political

IOM lent immediate support to the peace
process by providing logistical and technical assistance to the
government's efforts to return home of more than 1,400 amnestied
political prisoners from jails in Aceh and on the island of Java in
late August.

Between August and mid-January 2006, the
Organization also helped to implement a three-phase transitional
safety-net allowance of money and goods to the amnestied prisoners.
The allowance was also given to more than 450 other political
detainees freed two days after the signing of the MoU as part of an
annual sentence remission that coincided with the national
Independence Day holiday.

With Japan's significant new contribution,
IOM's support to the Indonesian government moves into a new phase
during which longer-term individual support programmes and
assistance to host communities will be provided.

The funds will be used to develop livelihood
programmes for ex-prisoners and former combatants through a network
of nine IOM-supported Information, Counselling and Referral Service
centres around the province.

The individually tailored livelihood
opportunities include vocational training and material support to
small businesses and cooperatives, and assistance to existing
businesses that will allow them to expand, absorbing and training
new workers from the target groups.

Over the past decade, IOM programmes have
helped governments successfully demobilize and return to civilian
life thousands of former combatants in Asia, Africa and Latin
America, most recently in the province of Kosovo, Afghanistan and
the former Indonesian province of Timor-Leste.

Indonesia's Vice President Yusuf Kalla
witnessed the signing of the agreement by IOM Indonesia Chief of
Mission Steve Cook and Japan's Ambassador to Indonesia, Yutaka
Iimura, during a ceremony in Jakarta.

For further information, please contact:

Paul Dillon

IOM Banda Aceh

Tel: +62812 698 8035

E-mail: "mailto:pdillon@iom.int" target="_blank" title=