Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The government will dispatch rice stock for fishermen in several parts of Indonesia who temporarily cannot earn a living due to extreme weather, a minister said.

"The government has rice stock in every region in Indonesia. I have sent a request to Minister of Home Affairs to inform his officials to distribute rice stock to the unfortunate fishermen," Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono said here on Thursday.

The minister who was interviewed after inaugurating the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA) office in Central Jakarta expressed hope that the rice aid would ease off the fishermen in fulfilling their basic needs while temporarily not being able to earn a living.

Over the past year, Indonesia has been undergoing an extreme weather phenomenon, which partly characterizes with heavy rains and whirlwinds.

As the consequences of the torrential rains and whirlwinds, various vulnerable parts of the country have experienced flash floods and landslides.

The extreme weather is also affecting fishermen who lived in some other parts of Indonesia.

Earlier, The People`s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (Kiara) has asked the government to declare the current extreme weather conditions a national disaster as they were preventing thousands of Indonesian fishermen from their living.

"There are 53 districts and cities in Indonesia which have been impacted by the present extreme weather conditions and 550,000 people are being victimized. Looking at the facts, we urge the government to declare present extreme weather conditions a national disaster," Kiara Secretary General M Riza Damanik said.

Riza also criticized the divergence between the data collected by Kiara and those issued Marine and Fisheries Ministry where the latter stated extreme weather had impacted 41 districts and cities in Indonesia and a total of 473,983 people.

"The ministry fails to count the damage done in several areas. In Jakarta province, for example, the ministry only studies areas such as Muara Angke and Thousand Islands while there are also other areas like Cilincing, Marunda and Kali Baru where the fishermen cannot go to the sea due to bad weather," Riza said.

Meanwhile Secretary of an NGO, the Coalition of Indonesian Traditional Fishermen (KNTI), Dedy Ramanta said the government was slow in handling the problem facing the fishermen.

He suggested the government to set up an insurance system for Indonesian fishermen to help them survive when harsh conditions happened. He also said the government must accurately note the number of fishermen impacted by extreme weather in Indonesia. Such action was needed to ensure that aid was given to the right persons, he said.

Extreme weather in Indonesia is predicted to last until April 2011.

Editor: Bambang
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