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Riau Governor, Syamsuar., Pekanbaru, Riau – The ASEAN’s Foundation for Orphans Education (Yawatim ASEAN) has initiated the development of University of Anak Yatim ASEAN in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau province, to provide free higher education for orphans in the region.

“Insya Allah (God willing), the groundbreaking ceremony will be held on August 24, and attended by the Indonesian religious affairs minister and representatives of ASEAN member countries,” Riau Governor Syamsuar said here on Sunday (12/8/2019).

The university will be built on 100 hectares of waqf (endowment) land contributed by local residents. Parts of its campus will also be built in Kampar District, some 100 km from Pekanbaru, Syamsuar said.

Yawatim ASEAN has affiliated with Yawatim Malaysia which has helped orphans in the country study at the University College Bestari of Terengganu.

In addition to the development of the university for orphans, Yawatim ASEAN also plans to establish a long-distance class for orphans and poor children in the region.

The foundation has prepared Rp13 billion, collected from individuals’ cash waqf, for the first stage of the construction.

According to Syamsuar he has received confirmation from some representatives of ASEAN member countries to attend the groundbreaking ceremony in Pekanbaru. (ris)

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Hotspots were also found in Jambi, totaling 75; Riau, 57; Bangka Belitung, 13; Riau, nine; Lampung, eight; and North Sumatra, one., Pekanbaru – A total of 260 hotspots were identified throughout Sumatra Island on Monday morning, suggestive of forest and peatland fires.

Analyst at the Pekanbaru Meteorology Station Nia Fadhila stated here on Monday that South Sumatra was found to contain the largest number of hotspots, reaching 97.

Hotspots were also found in Jambi, totaling 75; Riau, 57; Bangka Belitung, 13; Riau, nine; Lampung, eight; and North Sumatra, one.

In Riau, 22 hotspots were detected in Indragiri Hilir, 21 in Pelalawan, nine in Meranti, three in Indragiri Hulu, and one each in Bengkalis and Rohil.

Visibility was quite good in Pekanbaru, reaching seven kilometers; five kilometers in Pelalawan; four kilometers in Rengat; and six kilometers in Dumai.

In the meantime, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had confirmed that the tourism sector remained unaffected by the fires engulfing the land and forest areas in several Indonesian provinces over the past few months.

After attending the commemoration of the South Kalimantan provincial government’s 69th anniversary, Yahya pointed out that despite the raging fires, foreign tourist visits to different tourist destinations in the country remained unabated.

“We have yet to receive any report on the impact of land fires on national tourism. Everything is running as usual,” he stated.

He acknowledged the efforts of firefighters in extinguishing the land and forest fires in a swift and more integrated manner.

“In the previous years, land and forest fires had disrupted the tourism sector. However, this year, the impact had yet to be felt,” he added. (fba)

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Based on satellite monitoring on Aug 10, at 7 a.m. local time, 126 hotspots were found in Riau., – Riau Indonesian Defense Forces Commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, and National Disaster Mitigation Agency Head Lt Gen. Doni Munardo, Aug 13, oversaw Riau’s forest firefighting.

Aboard helicopters, they reviewed the condition of nature at the Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN), Indragiri Hulu, and Indragiri Hilir, among others, where wildfires razed forest and peatland areas.

In Jakarta, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had recently chaired a meeting at the State Palace to discuss efforts to combat forest fires. He instructed all-out efforts to extinguish the wildfires.

Eight provinces in Indonesia are prone to forest fires, but only six have declared an emergency status for forest fire, Director of Forest Fire Mitigation Raffles B. Panjaitan of the Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry stated.

The six provinces are Riau, with the emergency status declared from Feb 19 to Oct 31, or 255 days; West Kalimantan (from Feb 12 to Dec 31, or 323 days); South Sumatra (March 8-Oct 31, or 237 days); Central Kalimantan (May 28-Aug 26, or 91 days); South Kalimantan (June 1-Oct 31, or 153 days); and Jambi (July 23-Oct 20, or 90 days).

Based on satellite monitoring on Aug 10, at 7 a.m. local time, 126 hotspots were found in Riau, four in Jambi, 13 each in South Sumatra and South Kalimantan, 533 in West Kalimantan, and 159 in Central Kalimantan.

Fortunately, the smog, so far, emanating from forest fires had hung over the provinces of Riau, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan though not descending over Singapore and Malaysia, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo had stated on Aug 10, 2019.

However, the air quality has worsened in Pekanbaru, Riau, and Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. The concentrations of particulate matter (PM10) had reached 173, or considered unhealthy, in Pekanbaru, and 126, or moderate, in Palangkaraya.

The Health Ministry has urged people living in land-fire and forest fire-affected areas to avoid outdoor activities, so they are not exposed to smoke.

Director of Environmental Health of the Health Ministry Imran Agus Nurali stated that air pollution caused by wildfires could have an acute health impact in the short run.

Acute respiratory tract infection is a health disorder mostly found where the air quality is bad due to land and forest fires. The inspection may trigger other diseases among the people exposed to air pollution, he stated.

“Since it is acute, it could trigger asthma, hypertension, and heart disease for those running the risk of the diseases,” he stated.

In Pekanbaru, at least 1,136 residents of Pekanbaru, Riau Province, ailed from upper respiratory tract infections following exposure to haze arising from forest fires.

All community health posts in Pekanbaru were notified to be prepared to deliver optimal services to patients with respiratory ailments, Mohammad Amin, acting head of the Pekanbaru health office, had stated recently.

Most outpatients were people belonging to the productive age group that often conducted outdoor activities, he explained.

He called on Pekanbaru residents to watch out for their health and remain indoors at a time when haze blankets their city.

In South Sumatra, forest fires resulted in 274,502 people suffering from acute respiratory tract infection during the January-June 2019 period.

Palembang is the worst-affected area, with 80,162 residents suffering from the infection over the period of time, followed by Banyuasin District, with 36,871 sufferers; Muara Enim District, with 35,405 patients; Musi Banyuasin District, with 21,871 cases; and Ogan Komering Ilir District, with 13,292 ailing.

In Palangka Raya, the Central Kalimantan authorities temporarily closed schools owing to haze arising from wildfires.

Palangka Raya’s air pollution standard index (ISPU) on Aug 12, 2019, indicated that air quality in the area had reached 650, or very dangerous for people’s health.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) recorded that the air quality index in Palangka Raya City had reached 148.10 micrograms per cubic meter.

In addition to the public’s health, smog arising from forest fires in West Kalimantan also threatened business activities and prospects in the province, Chairman of the Indonesian Businessmen Association (Apindo) chapter in Pontianak Andreas Acui Simanjaya stated.

“The impact of haze has been huge, both on health and business. This necessitates attention from all parties,” he remarked in Pontianak on Aug 10.

He cited that smog from forest fires could affect public health and flight schedules, trigger complaints from neighboring countries, and waste both finances and energy of the government that has to work hard. (ant)

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The land and forest fires that occurred from January to August were mainly triggered by the acts of irresponsible people who conducted slash-and-burn land clearing practices to open new farmlands., Bintan, Riau Islands – The Bintan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) recorded that wildfires have ravaged some 1,500 hectares of land in the Riau Islands Province over the past eight months, and 90 percent of them were caused by slash-and-burn practices.

“Some 90 percent of the wildfires ravaging Bintan District’s areas are related to humans activities,” Head of Gunung Kijang, Teluk Bintan, and Toapaya Subdistricts’ Fire Department, Nurwendi, said here on Wednesday (14/8/2019).

The land and forest fires that occurred from January to August were mainly triggered by the acts of irresponsible people who conducted slash-and-burn land clearing practices to open new farmlands, Nurwendi said.

The Bintan District Police have warned local residents to put an end to this unlawful method of clearing the land but many of them still ignore warnings. The police recently arrested two residents, he said.

Apart from law enforcement efforts, wildfires continued to engulf certain areas of Toapaya Selatan Subdistrict on Monday and Tuesday, he said.

Amid this year’s dry season, the land and forest fires hit several provinces in the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Several residents of Pontianak, the capital city of West Kalimantan Province, had even been left with no choice but to inhale the thick smoke rising from the wildfire on Tuesday morning.

Tomi, a resident of the Parit Mayor neighborhood area, admitted to breathing in the thick haze with its strong smell, while heading to a mosque to perform Subuh, or the dawn prayer.

Several residents, too, expressed concern over the impact of this thick smog on their health and outdoor activities.

The haze, lofting through the areas of Pontianak, had also reduced visibility to some 150 and 200 meters, he stated, adding that some of his friends were suffering from respiratory infections owing to the smog, caused by the burning of forest and peatland areas.

The thick haze has been blanketing the areas of Pontianak and several other parts of West Kalimantan over these past few weeks as a result of wildfires in the peatland areas, as well as slash and burn activities. (orn)

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