The Indonesian government said it will accept foreign aid for reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the tsunami that devastated the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra but stressed that it will spearhead relief operations.
“I welcome [foreign] help for reconstruction. But Indonesia will handle the relief efforts on our own,” Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said as quoted by the Jakarta Post.
Yudhoyono explained that it is part of Indonesia’s policy to handle disasters and emergencies using its own resources whenever possible.
Indonesia did not seek any foreign assistance in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami and the eruption of the country’s most active volcano early last week. Despite this, the European Union and other donors offered immediate relief assistance and promised longer-term reconstruction aid.
>> Despite Twin Disasters, Indonesia Sees No Need for Foreign Aid YetStill awaiting assistance
The death toll for the tsunami has reached at least 430, according to latest figures released by the local officials, media agencies say.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government and its partner organizations are still experiencing difficulties reaching tsunami survivors.
“It is so difficult to get to these people,” Andrew Judge of SurfAid International said according to IRIN.
SurfAid International is helping Indonesia and the U.N. coordinate relief operations acorss the Mentawai Islands.
Judge explained that bad weather is delaying the delivery of food, tents, medicines and other relief supplies to remote communities that are only accessible by boat, IRIN says.