15 Dec 2005

Questions over Indonesian response to famine in Papua province

10:43 am on 15 December 2005

Questions are being raised in Indonesia over the government's response to food shortages in the province of Papua.

The Jakarta Post newspaper reports in addition to the 55 people known to have died of malnutrition since August in Yahukimo in the Papuan Highlands, 112 others have become ill from related sicknesses in the last month.

In an editorial, the newspaper says signs of an impending famine must have been apparent in the region since heavy rains destroyed sweet potato crops.

The government has sent an aircraft with relief supplies, and the Indonesian navy is reportedly poised to send food aid.

The Jakarta Post says Indonesian regional governments are desperately lacking in food management.

The newspaper editorial says the mineral riches of Papua province have not trickled down to regular people.