Spread across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population. Ethnically it is highly diverse, with more than 300 local languages. The people range from rural hunter-gatherers to a modern urban elite. (Source:

Lying near the intersection of shifting tectonic plates, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A powerful undersea quake in late 2004 sent massive waves crashing into coastal areas of Sumatra and into coastal communities across South and East Asia. The disaster left more than 220,000 Indonesians dead or missing. (Source:

Terre des hommes Germany was active in Sumatra and Java in the 1980s. Since 1998 however, tdh has since been giving priority on Northern Sumatra, particularly on Aceh, acting on a recommendation from the 2nd National Meeting of Indonesian partners held in August of the same year in Yogyakarta.

This recommendation from tdh partners was raised following the release of several reports concerning gross human rights violations against civilians in Aceh between 1989 and 1998, when the Suharto regime imposed military rule and placed Aceh under tight military control. During this decade, Aceh was referred to as a “Daerah Operasi Militer” (DOM), meaning “Military Operation Zone”.

Although the fall of Suharto in May 1998 led to the end of Aceh’s status as a military operation zone, gross human rights violations have continued in the form of mysterious killings, disappearances, rapes, and incidences of shooting on crowds. Aceh is also home to the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka or GAM) insurgent guerillas that have battled for Aceh’s independence from Indonesia since 1976.

The continuing atrocities and armed clashes between the Indonesian army and the armed wing of GAM have brought immense suffering to the Acehnese, who live their lives constant fear of being killed, raped, tortured or abducted.

Since 1999, the armed conflict has also caused a huge increase in the movement of internally displaced people (IDPs), most of whom are women and children. This movement of IDPs corresponds with the military’s sweeping activities in the villages, like burning of houses and schools.

Aside from the continuing armed conflict in Aceh, the prolonged economic crisis has brought significant impact on the poor throughout Indonesia. The year 2001 saw a rapidly growing number of school dropouts, street children, child workers, prostituted children, and dismissed workers in the manufacturing sector, especially women employed in the labour-intensive industries.


Partners of terre des hommes in Indonesia are active in the following areas
o    Human rights, especially the rights of children, women and workers
o    Documentation and dissemination of information on human rights violations against children and women

Partners in Indonesia