Indonesia: hindering international NGOs threatens tsunami victims’ rights

Responding to the decision by the government of Indonesia to restrict the work of international humanitarian workers in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“This is a sad example of bureaucracy trumping humanity. The decision to restrict international NGOs’ operations in the area will undoubtedly set back the relief effort at a critical time, as the populations reels from unspeakable devastation. Ultimately this decision could severely impact affected people’s human rights.

“Indonesia has the obligation to seek international assistance when needed, to protect essential levels of economic, social and cultural rights, and must facilitate that assistance. Instead of rejecting the help of international volunteers – many of whom are in Palu already – authorities should coordinate and integrate them into the government’s own lifesaving work.”


On Sept.28, 2018, a tsunami hit Indonesia’s Palu region in Central Sulawesi after a powerful earthquake of 7.4 Richter scale devastated the area. On Oct.1, the government of Indonesia announced that it welcomed international aid for the region. The death toll reached 2,045 as of Oct.10,2018. Around 82,775 people have been displaced and thousands more are still missing.

Many humanitarian NGOs deployed to the disaster site following the government’s initial announcement. This week the national disaster agency, the BNBP, issued regulations instructing international NGOs to “retrieve their personnel immediately” unless they register and work together with local NGOs and agencies in the affected region.