Two Solitudes: Post-tsunami & post-conflict Aceh.

 In August 2005, after the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean Basin, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the cessation of hostilities was signed by Aceh’s longstanding adversaries-the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). The tsunami was a major catalyst for ‘disaster diplomacy’-international political pressure, which, this paper argues, was an important ingredient in creating conditions for the MoU, although the situation within Aceh also shaped the peace process. Based on interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007 with government officials, GAM representatives and fighters, and non-governmental organization staff in Aceh, this paper finds that assistance for tsunami survivors far exceeds that available for conflict survivors and ex-combatants. The formation of these two solitudes-the tsunami-affected and the conflict-affected-compounds challenges for sustaining peace in Aceh. This research points to an enduring lack of livelihoods for former fighters and conflict victims that may threaten a sustainable peace.

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