Jayapura, Jubi – The Secretariat of Justice and Peace (SKP) of the Catholic Church in Papua reports that 46,926 civilians have been displaced from their villages due to the armed conflict between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).
A Pastoral Call endorsed by some diocesans was issued on Thursday, October 12, 2023, urging the government to facilitate the return of the displaced people to their hometowns. The displaced people have often expressed their desire to return to their hometowns but are worried about their safety as there is still suspicion from the security forces toward them.
Chairman of the SKP of the Manokwari Sorong Diocese, Rev. Izaak Bame said tens of thousands of displaced people were scattered across various regions in Papua. For example, 37,000 Nduga residents fled to the regencies of Asmat, Mimika, and Jayawijaya; 6,000 residents of Maybrat sought refuge in Kumurkek, Sorong Regency, and Sorong Municipality; while 2,252 residents from Kiwirok and surrounding areas fled to the Oksibil and even to Papua New Guinea.
In addition, 1,000 residents of Intan Jaya Regency fled to Nabire Regency, Paniai Regency, and Mimika Regency, and at least 674 residents of Muara Bontoh in Yahukimo Regency fled to Dekai, the capital of Yahukimo Regency.
Bame emphasized the dire conditions of these people, highlighting challenges in economic livelihoods, access to education services, and healthcare. In Sorong, numerous cases are observed where multiple families of displaced Maybrat people live together in a single house. Some have fallen ill and died.
Ultimately, the Catholic Church calls for the central and regional governments to guarantee the basic rights of these internally displaced individuals, including the provision of temporary shelters, food, healthcare, and access to education for children. (*)