Ivany Atina Arbi, Jakarta – The Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) has urged the government to deploy Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) personnel to restive areas of Papua to provide assistance to tens of thousands internally displaced people forced to flee their homes due to conflicts between the military and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).
LBH Papua director Emanuel Gobay said in a statement on Thursday that 57,819 Papuans were currently living at evacuation camps in three regions of Nduga, Intan Jaya and Tembagapura due to the ongoing conflicts since 2018.
At least 241 people reportedly died as a result of poor living conditions in their shelters, which were mostly located in forests. The displaced residents had minimum access to healthy food, clean water and medicine.
"Law No. 1/2018 on the Red Cross requires the organization to assist displaced persons in times of peace and conflict by taking into account the principles of humanity, equality, neutrality, independence, volunteerism, universality and others," Emanuel said in the statement.
Thousands of Papuans have been displaced from their homes following a series of armed conflicts between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the TPNPB.
The TNI's approach of aggressively hunting down pro-independence fighters in residential areas has been criticized as counterproductive, as it has resulted in the deaths of civilians rather than of the targets themselves.
Military personnel allegedly shot randomly in villages in their search for the rebels, causing the deaths of dozens. Various civil society organizations have demanded the government withdraw the troops. The military campaign, however, marches on. (vny)