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The BBC's Richard Galpin
"The migrants know they have have no choice if they wish to stay alive"
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Sunday, 8 April, 2001, 19:36 GMT 20:36 UK
More Madurese flee Borneo
Madurese refugees
More than 60,000 people have fled since the violence started
Community leaders in the town of Pangkalanbun in Borneo have decided to temporarily evacuate all Madurese to other parts of Indonesia to prevent further bloodshed, an official said Sunday.

"The Madurese leaders said that they have decided to evacuate their community out of Pangkalanbun to prevent bloodshed", district spokesman Ajema Abdullah said.

The administration is not kicking them out, it is the Madurese themselves who are conscious that their continued presence here at this time could worsen the situation.

Ajema Abdullah
Pangkalanbun district spokesman
Pangkalanbun is the latest town in Indonesian Borneo to be hit by ethnic violence pitting indigenous Dayak tribesmen against Madurese settlers from the East Java island of Madura.

Mr Abdullah said the decision to leave was taken at a meeting involving local leaders, police and the military.

"The administration is not kicking them out, it is the Madurese themselves who are conscious that their continued presence here at this time could worsen the situation", he said.

But according to the BBC's Richard Galpin, who is in Pangkalanbun, this was the last major town where Madurese were able to live in relative safety, and their evacuation completes the final stage of a campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Dayaks.

Leaving on ships

More than 6,500 Madurese already left the port of Kumai, near Pangkalanbun on two ships on Saturday.

"The Lauser ship left with 4,894 Madurese for Semarang, in Central Java, and 1,730 others left later on Saturday on board the KM Senopati for Surabaya, East Java", said a port authority spokesman.

The Senopati is due back in Kumai on Monday to take yet more refugees to Surabaya, he added.

Troop reinforcements

At least 10 people have been killed in Pangkalanbun since violence struck the town earlier this month.

Dead Madurese man
At least 10 people have been killed

Four companies of soldiers, equivalent to about 400 men, arrived in Pangkalanbun on Saturday to reinforce security there, but according to Richard Galpin their policy seems to be simply aiding with the evacuation not stopping the violence.

The Madurese leaders have said that members of their community would return to the town once the situation improved.

The savage violence began in Sampit on 18 February and quickly spread to Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province.

More than 500 people have been killed, mostly Madurese whose bodies have been mutilated or decapitated and at least 60,000 Madurese have fled the province.

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See also:

19 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Preparations for Borneo peace talks
10 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid visits Borneo refugees
09 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police open fire in Borneo
07 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Fear mounts in Borneo
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