We will develop an observation center, not a hospital.
Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - The former Vietnamese refugee camp in Galang Island will not be developed as a hospital but rather as an isolation and observation center for infectious diseases, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono clarified.

"We will develop an observation center and not a hospital," Hadimuljono stated during a visit to the ex-camp in Galang Island of Batam, Riau Islands Province, on Monday.

The minister noted that the observation center will handle infectious diseases, such as bird flu and the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government will renovate the building, earlier used as a hospital for Vietnamese refugees also called as the boat people, and offered supporting facilities, such as kitchen, laundry rooms, and office. The hospital was built by the United Nations.

In addition to the old building, the government will construct a new building that will serve as the isolation and observation center.

Development of the facility is expected to complete within three weeks in accordance with the target outlined by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

Earlier, Hadimuljono stated that the government had allocated funding worth Rp17 billion to install a water distribution system on Galang Island that will be developed as an isolation and observation center of infectious diseases.

"We have yet to calculate the total funding. However, for this (water distribution system), we require Rp17 billion," Minister Hadimuljono stated at Monggak Dam in Rempang Island, Batam.

The ministry will not solely channel its attention on the development of buildings but also on its infrastructure, such as clean water.

The clean water will be supplied from Monggak Dam, dozens of kilometers from the camp.

Despite a water reservoir at the camp, its capacity was quite less, at 0.1 cubic meters per second, while the island’s water demand is projected to touch 3.5 cubic meters per second.

During the 1979-1997 period, Galang Island served as a camp for refugees from Vietnam. The island has various facilities -- barrack, worship house, hospital, and school -- and it can accommodate 250 thousand people.

The Galang camp was closed in 1996, seven years after the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees.

All Vietnamese refugees had been repatriated by the UNHCR. The official transfer of the camp from the UNHCR to the Indonesian Batam Industrial Development Authority took place in 1997.


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Translator: Yuniati Jannatun N, Sri Haryat
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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