As of December 2022, the Indonesian government ignores the more than 60,000 estimated internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the regencies Nduga, Puncak, Intan Jaya, Maybrat, Pegunungan Bintang and Yahukimo, while the armed conflict between the West Papua National Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in these areas is ongoing. Local governments have attempted to re-settle IDPs, but security force deployments and armed clashes near their villages have continued. The vast majority of these IDPs have not received any support from the government.
IDPs in many regencies have little choice but to live in remote shelters in the forest, where they lack access to food, sanitation, medical treatment, and education. Local human rights defenders and churches have managed to access IDP shelters in the regencies Pegunungan Bintang and Maybrat. They documented the living conditions and collected testimonies from IDPs on the ground, confirming the complete absence of support.
As of the end of December 2022, IDPs in Maybrat are reluctant to return to their villages as security force deployments and security force raids continue. According to data received from church informants, the total number of IDPs from Maybrat has reached 1,836 persons. IDPs testified that the local government distributed rice and other food supplies to the IDPs. However, the funds used for the aid were deducted from the funds the village administration receives regularly.
The security situation in Maybrat remains tense. Local observers reported recent clashes between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) and Indonesian security forces in the Aifat Timur Tengah District on 9 and 10 December 2022. TPNPB fighters claimed they killed four Indonesian security forces during a firefight on 10 December. On 25 December 2022, the TPNPB claimed it occupied Kumurkek, the largest town in the Maybrat Regency. The Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat) denied the claim.
The police continue to persecute ten suspects, alleged to be involved in an attack against a military post in Kisor in September 2021. The police announced that the raids would continue until all perpetrators had been processed. The second wave of displacement was reported in September 2022, as joint security forces raided the larger Aifat area. On 26 December 2022, security forces reportedly raided Kamat and Faan Kahrio in the Aifat Timur Tengah District. The security force personnel reportedly Santa searched the Maria Bunda Allah Fan Kahrio Church and St Michael Kamat Church, devastating and breaking the interior, including a statue of Mother Mary.
Meanwhile, the Maybrat interim Regent, Mr Bernard Rondonuwu, has reportedly tried to re-settle IDPs to their home villages against their will. In early November 2022, the regent announced the successful relocation of 353 IDPs from nine villages. On 10 December 2022, Mr Rondonuwu made a public statement in which he ensured that the main parts of the Maybrat Regency were safe and that he would continue to carry out additional military deployments to arrest individual suspects. On 26 December, a convoy of 70 vehicles carrying 400 security force personnel was added to the 400 personnel who had earlier been deployed to the military post in Kamunda, Fan Kahrio Village, Aifat Timur Tengah District, Maybrat Regency, Papua Province.
Kiwirok District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency
The IDPs in Pegunungan Bintang have to deal with extreme weather conditions in the central highlands. Almost all IDPs from the Kiwirok District continue to live in forest shelters. An estimated 200 IDPs have crossed the border to Papua New Guinea, where they live in a refugee camp in the town of Tumorbil. Among the IDPs are many women and children. Their food and supplies come from gardens and hunting in the forest. The camps are located in remote areas in the forest and can only be accessed through small mountain trails.
Church workers visiting six temporary IDP camps in the Pegunungan Bintang Regency compiled lists, according to which 50 IDPs had died since being displaced. At least 39 IDPs suffered from sickness without access to healthcare facilities. The IDPs are in constant danger as Indonesian snipers operate in the Kiwirok district. On 27 October 2022, Indonesian snipers shot dead Mr Yahya Tepul in the Pelebib Village, where he wanted to look for his pig, which had just given birth to multiple piglets.
Like the Maybrat regency, the local government has tried to promote the resettlement of IDPs to their villages, although the security situation in the Kiwirok District remains tense. According to the police, about twenty IDPs from the Kiwirok District, including eight village leaders and medical workers, were re-settled in their villages in late November 2022. They had lived in Pegunungan Bintang’s largest city, Oksibil, with approximately 500 IDPs for fourteen months. Joint security forces were allegedly seconded to accompany them and guarantee their safety in the village. The total number of IDPs in the Pegunungan Bintang regency reached 2,252 people as of April 2022.
Suru-Suru District, Yahukimo Regency
Church workers visiting the IDPs in Suru-Suru in February 2022 compiled data according to which the number of IPPs was 1,971 persons, most of them living in forest shelters and villages in surrounding areas that they regard as “safe”. Military representatives commanding a military operation in Suru-Suru in October 2022 have confirmed that villages in Suru-Suru have been completely abandoned.
IDPs in the Nduga regency have been displaced since the armed conflict re-escalated in Nduga in early December 2018. Today, the entire regency has been abandoned, apart from Nduga’s largest town Kenyam and surrounding areas, where local government offices and public services are still functional. All health workers, teachers, village leaders, and residents have left their homes, fearing the armed conflict. Most of them reside in the town of Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, where the IDPs live scattered in 46 locations across the town. Others have moved to the towns of Timika, Jayapura, Tolikara, and Nabire.
The total number of IDPs from Nduga is estimated at 46,000, and most don’t receive any support from the government. Other observers claim the number of Nduga IDPs reached 69,000 persons in 2022. Solidarity groups and churches help the IDPs with isolated donations. According to a solidarity group for IDPs from Nduga, 615 IDPs have passed away since being displaced as of December 2021. Solidarity groups working with IDPs in Wamena described their work as closely monitored by local security forces. Various outposts that the groups established for the IDPs in Wamena have been closed down by the government to contain the IDP issue and prevent it from being raised in national and international media.
Regencies Puncak and Intan Jaya
There is very little information available about the current situation of IDPs from the regencies of Intan Jaya and Puncak. The latest figures on the total number of IDPs are from 2021 (see table below). This is particularly concerning about Intan Jaya, where the central government intends to exploit extensive gold resources located at the Wabu Block.
The armed conflict situation in both regencies remains tense, with sixteen armed attacks in Puncak and eight attacks in Intan Jaya throughout 2022. Considering armed clashes in both regencies continue to occur, it is unlikely that IDPs have returned to their homes as of December 2022.
Overview of IDPs in West Papua as of December 2022, segregated by regency
|No||Regency||IDPs||Displaced since||Additional info|
|1||Nduga||46,000||02 Dec 18||more than 615 IDPs reportedly died as of January 2022|
|2||Puncak||2,724||27 April 21||at least 16 IDPs have reportedly died during displacement|
|3||Intan Jaya||5,859||26 Oct 21||at least 126 IDPs face health issues, and 11 IDPs reportedly died|
|4||Maybrat||1,836||02 Sept 21||IDPs originated from 5 districts, 40 IDPs reportedly died, the local Govt reportedly facilitated the return of 353 IDPs from nine villages in November 2022 |
|5||Pegunungan Bintang (Kiwirok District)||2,252||10 Oct 21||about 200 IDPs fled to PNG, 50 IDPs reportedly died, at least 39 IDPs suffered from sickness|
|6||Yahukimo (Suru-Suru District)||1,971||20 Nov 21||IDPs from 13 villages sought shelter in 15 temporary camps, 16 women gave birth without medical attention, and 13 IDPs reportedly died. Security forces confirmed|
|T O T A L||60,642|
 JPIC Kingmi Papua (22.11.2021): Laporan Pelanggaran Ham dan Operasi MIliter di Tanah Papua
 Jubi (9.11.2021): SORAKPATOK: 300 tewas dan 50 ribu warga Papua mengungsi, available at: https://jubi.co.id/sorakpatok-300-tewas-dan-50-ribu-warga-papua-mengungsi/
 CNN Indonesia (30.10.2021): Ribuan Warga Papua Mengungsi Usai Pecah Kontak Senjata, available at: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20211030195433-12-714496/ribuan-warga-papua-mengungsi-usai-pecah-kontak-senjata
 The number was compiled by local church workers and represents the number of IDPs as of early December 2022.
 The number was compiled from multiple lists with names of IDPs which local human rights defenders compiled in Pegunugan Bintang in April 2022
 The number is based on data compiled by local church workers. The information was received in February 2022
 Jubi (12.11.2022): Pemkab Maybrat pulangkan 353 pengungsi Kisor, available at https://jubi.id/tanah-papua/2022/pemkab-maybrat-pulangkan-353-pengungsi-kisor/
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