Destroyed schools in Aceh


Aceh province

Below are pictures of a mission I undertook in Aceh province in December 2007.

In October 2005, the Helsinki Accord put an end to a 30-year long conflict between the Indonesian armed forces and Acehnese separatists which had resulted in the death of an estimated 30,000 people and displaced around 600,000 people between 1999 and 2004. The December 2004 tsunami and earthquake that devastated Aceh and North Sumatra provinces caused the death of at least 160,000 people and forced 500,000 people from their homes.  The tsunami and the subsequent assistance effort nevertheless had a major influence in ending the conflict in Aceh. In August 2005, the parties signed a memorandum of understanding known as the Helsinki Accord.



In December 2007, or two years after the formal end of the conflict, tens of thousands of people had not returned to their homes. Many still had littled confidence in the peace accord and feared that the presence of armed groups in their place of origin would pose a threat to their safety and security. Those who had returned felt much safer but the majority face major challenges  putting their lives back together and restarting their livelihoods and months or sometimes years of absence.


Maluku province

The pictures below were taken during a mission I undertook in Maluku province in December 2007. Areas visited included Ambon and Seram Island.

Between 1999 and 2002, a conflict in Maluku opposing Muslims to Christians claimed between 5,000 and 10,000 lives and displaced around 500,000 people, nearly half the province’s population. Most IDPs remained in the province but some 160,000 people fled to other provinces, mainly to South-East Sulawesi, North Maluku and West Papua. The majority of the displaced returned home in the months or years following the 2002 Malino II peace agreement, but many also settled elsewhere in the province or integrated locally.


At the time of my visit tens of thousands were still displaced or were living in resettlement sites lacking proper access to basic services and where livelihood opportunities were very limited.