55 STARVE TO DEATH IN PAPUA HIGHLANDS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Dec. 9) – Indonesia is set to deliver food aid to a Highlands area in the province of Papua after reports that 55 people have died from hunger there in the last two months.

A military cargo plane is scheduled to bring supplies to the remote district of Yahokimo, which is 200 kilometres from the provincial capital Jayapura.

The district chief One Pahebol has told the newspaper Kompas that some 55,000 people are facing a shortage of their staple food yams.

Yahokimo is part of the Jayawijaya Regency of the Papua Highlands, where the main town is Wamena, which is only accessible by plane from an airport nearby.

The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is said to have ordered the former finance minister and now welfare secretary, Aburizal Bakrie to travel to Papua.

A presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said Mr Yudhoyono has asked for an explanation from the home affairs minister about the reported deaths.

December 12, 2005

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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