Indonesia's government plans to evacuate children affected by haze to ships

A resident fishes by the river in Palangkaraya city, one of worst-hit by haze, in central Kalimantan province, on Oct 21, 2015.
A resident fishes by the river in Palangkaraya city, one of worst-hit by haze, in central Kalimantan province, on Oct 21, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Indonesian government has revealed plans to evacuate babies and children affected by the haze in Sumatra and Kalimantan to ships owned by the military, also known as TNI, or state-owned shipping firm PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia (Pelni).

"We will probably utilise ships owned by TNI or Pelni for the next four to five months to evacuate the residents," said Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan after a coordinating meeting with other ministers in Jakarta on Thursday (Oct 22) as quoted by news website kompas.com.

According to Luhut, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has issued a presidential instruction on smoke handling, which served as a legal protection for the ministries to conduct necessary efforts.

He added that the evacuation plan was the government's last resort. The babies and children will firstly be evacuated to the southern region, which has a lower Air Pollutant Standard Index (ISPU).

"If the ISPU [in the southern region] is also severe, then they will be evacuated to the ships," said Luhut.

The government has also prepared other steps, including an education program and sufficient stocks of food and electricity.

"Electricity is important to operate electronic equipment that can clear the air," said Luhut.