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President Jokowi chairs meeting on Sinabung, Rohingya refugees

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). (ANTARA/Andika Wahyu)

June 18, 2015

Jakarta - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) led a limited cabinet meeting to discuss ways to handle the refuges evacuated from around Mount Sinabung as well as the Rohingya asylum seekers in Aceh.

"We have to respond quickly to issues concerning Mount Sinabung," President Jokowi said during the meeting at the Presidential Office here on Thursday.

Among those attending the meeting were Coordinating Minister for Human and Culture Development Puan Maharani, Minister of Social Affairs Kofifah Indar Parawansa and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs A. M. Fachir.

Mount Sinabung erupted once again and forced local people to relocate to safer places, according to the president.

"We need to develop drainage systems in the refugee camps. Of the 370 new houses being built for refugees, only 130 have been completed so far," Jokowi pointed out.

The head of state has asked institutions concerned to expedite the construction of facilities for the refugees so they can be relocated to the new settlements.

"Besides housing, the other problem we face is related to jobs. They should be given agricultural fields to farm the way they used to in their villages," he stated.

Till June 17, the number of refugees from around Mount Sinabung totaled 10,714 people, or 2,882 families. They are currently being accommodated in 10 locations in Kabanjahe city, according to data from the disaster mitigation office of North Sumatra.

Supported by personnel from other institutions, the office has been evacuating villagers living within a 7-kilometer radius of the peak of Mount Sinabung.

The refugees are from the villages of Jaraya, Kutatengah, Sigarang Garang, Madingding, Kutagugung and Kutarayat.

Sinabungs volcanic activity has been worsening, with the mount spewing ash clouds continuously since the alert status was raised on June 2 at 11 p.m. local time.

During the meeting, the president also inquired about the Rohingya asylum seekers currently in temporarily accommodations in Aceh province.

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