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Military members alleged of occupying hospital in Paniai Regency - Patients leave hospital, all health services temporarily ceased

Human Rights Monitor - May 27, 2024

Indonesia, West Papua – Intensified armed clashes between Indonesian security forces and members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in the Paniai since early May 2024 reportedly resulted in the temporary closure of the only general hospital in the regency. The closure of health facilities in conflict areas due to the armed conflict has occurred in various regencies across West Papua, leaving the residents in these areas isolated from access to fundamental health services.

On 24 May 2024, all patients were reportedly asked to leave the Uwibutu General Hospital (RSUD Paniai) in the town of Madi, while military members were taking control of the third floor of the building to overlook the Madi area to approach TPNPB fighters. On 26 May all patients and health workers reportedly left the hospital. All medical services were temporarily ceased. Six intensive care patients had to be transferred to other general hospitals in the neighbouring regency Deiyai, and others to Nabire Regency.

According to Dr Agus, Director of RSUD Paniai, the deployment of security forces was directly instructed by the Ministry of Health and coordinated with the Cenderawasi Military Command. He explained that the Paniai Hospital only followed instructions from Jakarta.

Dr Kes denied that the patients were forced to leave, explaining that patients and health workers had voluntarily left the hospital afraid of being caught in the crossfire between the conflicting parties. XVII/Cenderawasih military command chief, Lieutenant-Colonel Candra Kurniawan, declared that the military members had been deployed to the hospital after receiving threats that the TPNPB had planned to burn the hospital to the ground.

On 27 May 2024, health workers gathered in front of the RSUD Paniai to protest against the occupation of the public health facility, demanding the immediate withdrawal of all security force members from the third floor of the Hospital. They added that all hospital staff will return to duty from 28 May 2024.

Source: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/general/military-members-alleged-of-occupying-hospital-in-paniai-regency-patients-leave-hospital-all-health-services-temporarily-ceased