Around 2.8 million people have lost their jobs since the deadly COVID-19 outbreak hit the Indonesian economy.
Now not only are citizens struggling to distance themselves from being infected — they have to face the fear of hunger, especially the poor and informal workers.
On Monday (20 April), Yuli Nur Amelia, a 43-year old woman in the city of Serang in the western part of Java island, had reportedly passed away as a result of extreme hunger and psychological pressure after reportedly not eating for two days. She and her husband had lost their source of income due to the pandemic.
A day before she passed away, Kompas TV broadcasted an interview with her in which she shared her family’s struggles.
The late Mdm Yuli shared that she and her husband were both low-wage workers. She worked as an outsourced employee who was placed on unpaid leave after the corona outbreak.
Her husband worked as a scavenger collecting plastic waste. However, he is no longer able to do it, as many buyers have closed their business during the pandemic.
Because of that condition, the family could only afford drinking water and eating unripe cassava from their garden for more than a day.
“We cannot do anything but feeling sad,” she said.
The late Mrs Yuli also stated that her family had not received any aid from the government.
“Not yet, [but] I have applied [for it],” she said in the news footage.
Her video went viral on social media and local news.
Separately, the Head of Serang City Communication and Information Office Hari Pamungkas confirmed the news of her death.
“First of all, our deepest sympathy to the family. Yes, that is correct — she passed away on the way to Puskesmas Sidangdaru [a community health center] in the city of Serang,” Mr Hari told Kompas on Monday (20 April).
According to him, she was unconscious at home before being brought to the community health centre.
Additionally, Mr Hari stated that the family had been recorded as one of the beneficiaries of aid in the COVID-19 task force, but the administration had limited capability to distribute the aid.
“Our resources are limited. We need [the help from] everyone. We cannot work by ourselves. We need all society to work together and support each other. Let’s not blame each other. We all are facing this pandemic together,” said Mr Hari.
Meanwhile, in North Sumatra, Atek, a 40-year old man living in the Medan Polonia had reportedly stolen rice from a stall because he was hungry and had nothing but water.
“I stole the rice because I can’t stand the hunger. I’ve received 5 kilograms of rice [in food aid] from the government, but I have sent that to my wife and our three children, who live at my parents’ house since I lost my job,” Atek said on Sunday, as quoted by tribunnews.com.
It was reported that the residents beat him after catching him red-handed.
As of Tuesday (21 April), 7,135 Indonesians are positive with COVID-19 and 616 people have died.
The unemployment may increase between 2.9 million to 5 million people, the Head of Fiscal Policy Office of the Ministry of Finance, Febrio Nathan Kacaribu said in a teleconference on Monday (20 April).
Now, not only are Indonesians struggling to avoid the spread of COVID-19 — they are also facing the imminent prospect of hunger.