Monday, March 27, 2006

Bird brains in Indonesia

Indonesia is struggling (half heartedly some say) to control a bird flu outbreak that started last July and has now made them number two in the overall list of cases and fatalities amongst people. The country is the fourth most populous one in the world, has a vast population living close to poultry, and has shown itself unable to investigate the many human cases that have appeared, some clustered. Many of us think that it is in the simmering Indonesian bird flu pot that things will boil over.

Now we hear that Indonesia won't sign a bird flu financial assistance agreement offerred by Australia ($10 million Australian) because Australia granted temporary visas to 42 political asylum seekers from Indonesia's Papua province.
"The postponement is triggered by Australian government's move to grant temporary visas for 42 Papuans," said Lalu Mara Satria Wangsa, a senior staff with the Coordinating Ministry for People's Welfare.

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie was slated to sign the 10 million Australian dollars assistance agreement with Australian Ambassador Bill Farmer earlier in the day.

The visa decision, Wangsa said, "really hurts the Indonesian people." (Xinhua)
Australia is hurting the Indonesian people because Indonesia won't take $10 million dollars in badly needed aid over a visa dispute? If this is the government in control in a bird flu hotspot, the world is in a lot of trouble.