Update on situation of IDPs in Puncak Regency – Local government says thousands displaced due armed clashes

Papuan media outlet Suara Papua has published new data on internally displaced persons in the Puncak Regency, where Indonesian security forces have launched a widespread operation against the West Papua National Liberation Army since 27 April 2021. According to the Social Affairs Department in Puncak, 653 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are currently seeking shelter at the local government complex in Puncak’s largest town of Kimak (see photo, source: Suara Papua). Thousands of indigenous villagers from the Mabugi and Ilaga Utara districts are believed to hide in churches and the forests.

Government workers say the IDPs in Kimak reportedly originate from Mabugi, Ilaga Utara and Ilaga (villages Wuloni, Tagaloa, Kalebut & Kimak). The local government has allegedly erected seven tents at the government complex in Kimak and provided rice and instant noodles to the IDPs. They need more humanitarian supplies, as it is not clear when the conflict situation in the Puncak Regency will allow the IDPs to return to their villages.

Meanwhile, most residents in the districts Mabugi and Ilaga Utara have reportedly fled their homes. According to Government data, about 3,000 people live in the Mabugi District and 3,000 in the Ilaga Utara District. The total number of residents in the villages Tagaloa and Kimak, Ilaga District, was estimated at 800 to 900 residents in each village.

The Social Affairs Department in Puncak assumes that only indigenous people with money decided to flee to Kimak. At the same time, the majority of IDPs are believed to hide in churches and the forest. Many residents from Mabugi and the villages Paluga and Akonobak (Ilaga Utara District) have reportedly sought shelter in a local church in the Bologobak village. Those IDPs who could afford an aeroplane ticket fled to the regencies Mimika and Nabire.

The situation in most parts of the Puncak Regency is tense, and the freedom of movement restricted because TNI and TPN PB are on the alert to engage in armed combat. The most recent clashes were reported on 13, 12 and 11 May 2021. A TPN PB member was reportedly killed during clashes in the Wuloni Village on 13 May 2021. On the same day, firefights also occurred in the villages  Tegelobak and Upaga in the Gome District. Other armed clashes took place in the Tagaloa Village, Ilaga District, on 11 May and in the Gome Village, Gome District, on 12 May 2021.