Human rights activists in Pegunungan Bintang Regency have uploaded a video showing a group of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Kiwirok District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency. The group mainly consists of women and children. They are hiding in a temporary shelter in the Papuan highland forest.
The video shows about 60 people, mainly women, older adults and children, sitting together in the jungle (see photo, video screenshot). One of the women is sharing raw leaves and several bananas among the children. Another woman raises her voice and appeals to the group in the indigenous Ngalum language: “Indonesia[n soldiers] came and burnt our villages to the ground. We have already fled to the forest for one month. There is hardly any food so all children must eat what we have.” (@ 1 minute 40 seconds)
The video illustrates that the IDPs – mainly, elderly, women and children – do not have sufficient food supplies. They are forced to hide in the forest, exposed to the harsh weather conditions in the Papuan central highlands, without humanitarian access. Seventeen IDPs from the Okhika District are facing health problems due to the extreme conditions and lack of food in the temporary camps.
Indigenous Papuans in the Pegunungan Bintang Regency have fled their homes following the burning of public facilities and the killing of a health worker in the Kiwirok District on 13 September 2021. The IDPs fear becoming victims of state violence during security operations, which Indonesian military and police forces have launched against the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in Pegunungan Bintang.
Meanwhile, human rights observers in West Papua have documented the deployment of additional security forces to Pegunungan Bintang. Human rights observers are concerned that the deployments will aggravate the armed conflict in Pegunugan Bintang.
According to information received, security forces closely monitor indigenous Papuans who have decided to stay in the Kiwirok District. The security forces control identities and conduct random personal controls of the residents. As of 22 October, more than 2,000 indigenous peoples from Kiwirok have been internally displaced (see below).
Overview of current IDP situation:
- More than 300 IDPs from the Kiwirok district have fled to Pegunungan Bintang’s largest town, Oksibil. They have erected 17 camps across the town and an emergency post at the local GIDI Church.
- Eight hundred families fled to the Oklip District.
- One hundred eighty families from the Warasamol District fled across the border to Papua New Guinea.
- About 1000 IDPs from Okhikha District have erected five temporary camps in the forest
- An unknown number of IDPs from the districts Kiwi and Okyop currently seek shelter in forests in Abmisibil Village, in the Okbibab District.
Conditions at one of the temporary shelters erected by IDPs from the Okhika District (source: YKKMP):