ACTNews, ACEH BESAR - Once again, the people of Aceh contributed and gave concrete actions in responding to the humanitarian crises in several conflict-ridden areas. A number of Acehnese people, especially farmers, are preparing thousands of tons of best quality rice during this harvest season. A thousand tons of rice is being prepared to be shipped to the Syrian refugees through the Humanitarian Ship for Syria initiated by Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT).
One thousand tons of rice was harvested from 340 hectares of rice field, involving around 5.000 local farmers from across various regencies in Aceh: Bireun, Pidie, Pidie Jaya, Aceh Besar, Aceh Jaya, Aceh Timur, Meulaboh, Nagan Raya, and Abdya.
The rice preparation for the Humanitarian Ship for Syria coincides with the harvest season is really helping the local farmers, as stated by the branch manager of ACT Aceh Husaini Ismail during the rice harvest and packing ceremony for the Humanitarian Ship for Syria in Gampong Lampuuk, Aceh Besar regency, on Monday (12/3). The best quality rice was bought above the owner estimate rate set by the government.
"Alhamdulillah, the Humanitarian Ship for Syria program is helping the farmers to stabilize the price of the unhulled rice. Usually, during the harvest season, the price of the ungulled rice drops down. This program helps keeping the price of the unhulled rice at a fairly high price, hence it is beneficial for the farmers," said Ismail on Monday (12/3).
It is the first time for the Acehnese farmers to participate and take part in the Humanitarian Ship program. According to Ismail, they are really enthusiastic to help sending 1.00 tons of rice to Turkey, where the Humanitarian Ship for Syria is set to harbor. This is because there's already a strong bond between the people of Aceh and Turkey since hundreds of years ago.
"The historical relation between Aceh and Turkey is strong, whether in diplomacy, trading, and social aspects. The shipping of the rice is just like a repetition of history. Our great grandfathers in Aceh used to send pepper to Turkey during the Ottoman era, now we send rice to Syrian refugees, those staying on the Syria-Turkey border and those staying inside Syria," said Ismail.
The 1.000 tons of rice that is to be shipped will be a collaborative effort of all people of Indonesia to respond to the crisis afflicting the people of Syria in Eastern Ghouta. Around 400.000 of civilians in Ghouta are still trapped inside the conflict zone that has escalated since Sunday (18/2).
Meanwhile, the number of casualties caused by the relentless airstrikes in recent weeks has reached 900 people, according to the data released by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Thursday (8/3).
N. Imam Akbari, ACT's Senior Vice President, emphasized how, at the moment, a humanitarian catrastrophe is happening in Eastern Ghouta. Innocent civilians, especially children, are vulnerable to the attacks.
"It's time for us to act for humanity. There's no more reason not to help in humanitarian context, even though they came from different backgrounds. We are a humanitarian aid agency, it is our duty to help the conflicts and invite many people to also care about them. Insha Allah, we are trying our best to reach Syria, working together with our partners there," explained Akbari.
The Humanitarian Ship for Syria will Insha Allah depart from Belawan harbor, Medan, on April 21st 2018. According to Insan Nurrohman, ACT Vice President and the Person in Charge for the Humanitarian Ship for Syria, the Humanitarian Ship will be harbored in Mersin harbor, Turkey.
"1.000 tons of rice will be transported by 40 container trucks in our store houses in Aceh. Insha Allah, 40 containers will be officially launched on April 18th 2018 to Belawan harbor, Medan. Insha Allah, on April 21st, 1.000 tons of rice will be departed for Syria," said Nurrohman.
Not only sending 1.000 tons of rice to respond to the crisis in Eastern Ghouta, ACT also has dispatched the SOS (Sympathy of Solidarity) Team XIV to Syria in late February. Humanitarian aids in the form of public kitchen and winter aid have been distributed on the Turkey-Syria border until now. Similar aids have also been distributed to Eastern Ghouta residents trapped inside underground bunkers in their houses.
Not only helping them during the emergency phase, ACT is also preparing a long-term aid for the Syrian refugees called the Indonesian Humanity Center (IHC). IHC is designated for the provision of basic needs such as food and medical supplies. For the first step, 1.000 tons of food will be prepared.
"As we know, the civil war in Syria has been raging for seven years and we don't know when it's going to end. Therefore, we are preparing a long-term program to supply the needs of the Syrian refugees. This program will also be the solution for the food crisis in Eastern Ghouta due to the conflict," Akbari concluded.