21 Sep 2009

Indonesian team heads to Papua following reports of deaths from hunger

10:31 am on 21 September 2009

The Indonesian government says it will send a team to a district in eastern Papua Province after an NGO reported deaths from hunger and associated diseases there.

An adviser to the Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare says the team of officials will be dispatched this week to the isolated district of Yahukimo in Papua.

He told the NGO, Integrated Regional Information Networks, that the team will see the situation on the ground in order to take measures on who to achieve sustainable food security.

He also says the provincial government has been asked to deliver food supplies such as rice, noodles and sugar to the affected areas.

Yahukimo District chief says food shortages have hit 25 areas in the district.

The chairman of the People's Health Council, a community-based body in Yahukimo, says 49 people had died in the past three months due to illnesses.

But the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said it had received information from local NGOs and civil society groups that 113 villagers had died in Yahukimo since January due to hunger and associated diseases after crop failures.