"I hope the refugees remain patient and wait until it is safe because plenty of houses, farmland and infrastructure were damaged. The safety of our people is paramount," President Yudhoyono said during his visit to a refugee shelter in Pujon District, Malang Regency, on Thursday.
The president told the refugees to heed the instructions of officials in charge of handling the Mount Kelud eruption crisis. The government, he stated, prioritizes the safety of the people over property.
"The property and infrastructure that are damaged can be fixed," the president stressed.
The visits of President Yudhoyono, while accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, also aimed at interacting with the refugees. The president and First Lady asked the children among the Mount Kelud victims to continue to believe in themselves.
After interacting with the refugees, the president and his entourage visited the soup kitchen at the Main Shelter in the Pujon District Office. The president also visited the refugee shelter in Ganesha Hall, Batu City.
The refugees were evacuated to several camps on Friday, Feb. 14, after the eruption of Mount Kelud. Refugees from Kasembon District, Ngantang District and Pujon District in Malang Regency have numbered in the tens of thousands.
The Mount Kelud eruption led to the deaths of seven people: Said, 60; Partini, 73; Sanusi, 80; Sairi, 70; Mbok Yah, 70; and Sutinah, 77, from Pandansari Village in Ngantang District, as well as Sayini, a resident of Tulungrejo Village in Pujon District.
(Reporting by Endang Sukarelawati/Uu.D018/INE/KR-BSR/B003)