Since its aggravation in December 2018, the armed conflict in West Papua has spread over the seven regencies Intan Jaya, Pegunungan Bintang, Mimika, Nduga, Maybrat, Yahukimo and Puncak. Security force operations accompanied by human rights violations have resulted in a great number of internal displacements over the past three years. The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) vary between 50,000 and 60,000 IDPs, as of November 2021. The Papuan People’s Solidarity Rejecting State Violence (SORAKPATOK) documented a total number of 13,687 new displacements between January and November 2021, alone.
The majority of IDPs in West Papua have not returned to their homes due to the heavy security force presence and ongoing armed clashes in the conflict areas. They continue to live in temporary shelters or stay with relatives in other areas which they consider as safe. Apart from isolated initiatives to provide aid deliveries, the central government ignores the presence of thousands of IDPs in West Papua, while deploying additional troops to West Papua.
The following section contains updated information on the situation of IDPs in the regencies Intan Jaya, Pegunungan Bintang, Nduga, Maybrat, Yahukimo and Puncak.
As of mid-November 2021, 3,121 indigenous Papuans from 50 village in the districts Aifat Selatan, Aifat Timur, Aifat Timur Jauh, Aifat Timur Tengah and Distrik Aifat Timur Selatan have reportedly fled their homes. Among the IDPs are at least 575 children between seven and eighteen years. Human rights defenders and churches have expressed concerns regarding the situation of the IDPs. The local government in Maybrat fail to provide basic health care and other humanitarian services to the IDPs. A 6-year-old girl named Evalina Aimau reportedly passed away on 8 November 2021. Eight IDPs have reportedly died since being displaced.
The Catholic Diocese Manokwari-Sorong wrote a letter to the military in Maybrat, calling on the commander to allow the IDPs to return to their homes. The diocese has not yet received any response to the letter as of 26 November 2021. After almost three months of displacement, the IDPs struggle with the living conditions in their temporary shelters due to limited access to food, healthcare and education.
As of 22 October 2021, more than 2,000 indigenous peoples from the districts Kiwirok, Okbemtau, Okhika, Kiwirok Timur and Oklip have been internally displaced. About 200 indigenous people from Kiwirok have fled over the border to Papua New Guinea (PNG). A wave of displacement was observed between 10 and 21 October 202, shortly after Indonesian security forces conducted air raids in the villages Pelebip, Kiwi, Delpem, and Lolim. Observers stated that the military dropped mortar grenades from helicopters on indigenous settlements, destroying houses and gardens.
The majority of IDPs in Pegunungan Bintang continue to live in temporary camps in the forest, where they have no access to food and are exposed to the harsh weather conditions in the Papuan central highlands, without humanitarian access. At least 126 IDPs face health issues while being cut off from the access to public healthcare services. Three IDPs have reportedly died since being displaced.
At least 5.859 IDPs in the Suagapa district and the surrounding area sought shelter in churches. The spokesperson of the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua), Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, confirmed the figure in an interview with CNN Indonesia on 30 October 2021. On 10 November 2021, military officials in Sugapa announced that the people were allowed to return to their villages.
As of 20 November 2021, the security situation in Sugapa remained tense. According to local informants, hospitals, schools, and other public facilities remained closed. Local residents and IDPs had to report to the police and military if they wanted to collect crops in their gardens. IDPs from the villages Bilogai and Yokatapa have reportedly returned to their homes while IDPs from Wandoga continue to stay in a catholic church in Sugapa. Eleven IDPs reportedly died during displacement.
In 2020, the Ombudsman estimated that 50,000 people from Nduga were internally displaced due to the armed conflict. More recent data from human rights organisations and solidarity groups suggest the number of IDPs to reach 46,000 people. The majority of IDPs from Nduga have moved to other Papuan regencies where they do not receive any food or relief supplies and continue to lack access to free health care. The lack of coordination between the local government in Nduga and other local governments has caused the exclusion of Nduga IDPs from public healthcare services. According to solidarity groups, 400 IDPs have died between December 2018 and November 2020 in the Jayawijaya alone as a result of diseases and other strains which they face. The number has reportedly risen to 621 as of November 2021.
Local observers counted 2,724 IDPs from the districts Mabugi, Ilaga Utara and Ilaga. They have been displaced since late April 2021, after the Indonesian security forces launched a massive military operation in response to the killing of the Papuan intelligence chief. At least three IDPs have reportedly died.
An unknown number of indigenous people in the Suru-Suru District fled their homes after TPN PB members killed one military member on 20 November 2021. Another soldier was injured during the firefights. The military has erected a military post in Suru-Suru, where the military has planned to build a military command. The TPB PB announced it will continue to carry out attacks against security force members as long as the military will pursue its plan to erect the military command in Suru-suru.