Update on situation of IDPs from Mimika – IDPs face challenges after return to their villages

In late January 2021, the first internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the villages Waa, Arwanop, Opitawak and Banti in the Mimika Regency returned to the Tembagapura District after spending almost eleven months in the town of Timika. Human rights observers have expressed concern over the current situation of the IDPs. According to information received, the IDPs cannot access health services and continue to be prevented from returning to their villages.

Currently, the IDPs have been accommodated inside the primary school in Banti II Villlage. Health facilities and schools have been abandoned. Many houses and the electricity supply have been damaged. Human rights activists criticized security force members for restricting the IDPs from walking to the nearby town of Tembagapura, where they can buy food and access medical services. Some of the IDPs reportedly launched a peaceful protest, demanding freedom of movement and access to health facilities.

Human rights defenders in Mimika urged the security forces, the local Government and PT Freeport Indonesia (PT FI) to allow the IDPs to return to their homes and live their traditional way of live as indigenous peoples without having to fear repressive acts. They called upon PT FI and the local Government to fix the infrastructure, re-build damaged houses and ensure that the villagers have access to healthcare services and education.