Update on the situation of IDPs from Nduga and Intan Jaya – Activists confirm further fatalities

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Human rights defenders have exposed updated information on the situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the regencies Nduga and Intan Jaya. Humanitarian helpers working with IDPs from Intan Jaya confirmed the deaths of at least nine IDPs. The majority of fatalities were reported from the town of Nabire, where about 3,000 IDPs from Intan Jaya have sought temporary shelter. Children are particularly affected by the displacement situation. Many internally displaced children (IDCs) do not go to school since they fled their homes. Besides, they are highly vulnerable to health issues, a common problem among many IDPs due to malnutrition and bad hygienic conditions in refugee shelters.

Situation of IDPs from Intan Jaya
Human rights activists, solidarity movements, and churches have launched initiatives to collect donations and humanitarian supplies for Intan Jaya IDPs in Nabire. According to the Papuan news outlet Suara Papua, at least eight IDPs from Ndugusiga Village in the Sugapa District of Intan Jaya Regency have died since being displaced, among them five minors. Their names are Paulina Lawiya, Julita Weya, Sabisa Weya, Monce Mirip (minor), Jariana Mirip (minor), Lea Mirip (minor), Alberto Weya (minor) and Jupinia Weya (minor). Local groups have not yet compiled data of other diseased IDPs from other districts.

Solidarity group members in Nabire declared that most IDCs in Nabire do not go to school since they left their villages. The majority of them are primary and junior high school students. They will not be able to complete their exams and pass on to higher education levels without certificates. The majority of them originate from the districts Sugapa, Hitadipa, and Agisiga.

A one-year-old baby named Zakeus Selegani reportedly passed away on 10 March 2021, after his family had been displaced. According to local informants, the baby became sick as the family lived with other IDPs in a tent at the catholic Santo Paulus Congregation in Puyagiya Village, Sugapa District (see photo). Although their home village situation is not safe yet, the family decided to walk home because the way to the clinic in Bilogai town was too far from the temporary shelter. The baby finally died shortly after in the village.

According to media sources, the Indonesian Social Affirs Ministry delivered humanitarian aid packages worth Rp. 172.3 million (about € 10.000) to Intan Jaya on 6 March 2021. Earlier, the Papua Social Affairs Office reportedly provided 120 tonnes of rice, 13 thousand instant noodle packs, one ton of sugar, 1000 cans of sardines, 30 velbeds, 50 family kits, 50 foodware packages, 80 wool blankets, 100 mattresses, and 126 kitchen sets to the IDPs in the Kenyam district. Further humanitarian aid supplies were delivered by the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) in cooperation with the ICRC (the International Committee of the Red Cross) to Kenyam on  17 March 2021. However, the Government support has only reached IDPs who have fled to the Kenyam districts, while those residing in other regencies continue to rely on solidarity initiatives by civil society actors.

Situation of IDPs from Nduga
Raga Kogeya, a human rights activist originating from the Nduga Regency, provided updated information on Nduga IDPs' situation during a public panel discussion in Jayapura on 18 and 19 March 2021. According to Kogeya, all districts in Nduga have been abandoned and are controlled by military forces. The Government offices in Nduga are not functioning correctly because many civil servants have left. A “normal” life is only taking place in Nduga’s largest town Kenyam. However, IDPs and residents in Kenyam are closely monitored by security force members.

The majority of IDPs from Nduga have sought shelter in Timika, Jayapura, Wamena, and Agats. Those IDPs who stayed in the Puncak Regency left to other regencies after members of the military reportedly killed four indigenous Papuans in late 2020.

She expressed particular concerns over the situation of IDCs. Many children do not go to school. A temporary school in Wamena which was established for IDCs from Nduga, is not operating anymore. The education department in Intan Jaya registered the displaced children but has not taken any measures to ensure that the IDCs have access to education. Many IDCs remain excluded from the education system in other regencies.

Raga Kogeya underlined the urgent need to set up a memorandum of understanding between the health departments in the regencies Jayawijaya and Nduga. The lack of cooperation between both health departments prevents Nduga IDPs in the Jayawijaya regency from accessing free health care services.

The panelists also talked about Raga Kogeaya and other activists' intimidation after compiling data and humanitarian aid to the IDPs. Human rights activists documented most victims during the first months of the conflict. After that, security force activists faced more intimidation acts by security force members, and case documentation became more difficult.