IDP Update, August 2023: Each Regency confronts a different set of challenges

Maybrat: Two years after displacement IDPs are still in need of attention

Two years after the attack in Kisor, Aifat Selatan District, Maybrat Regency that triggered the series of events causing massive internal displacement, most of the IDPs have not returned home and still live in a number of refugee camps, both in Maybrat and in the Sorong region. Pastor Heri Lobya from the Franciscan Papuan Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Secretariat (SKPKC) said that according to the numbers released by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) on 28 July 2023, a total of 5,296 refugees still survive in refugee camps, and 138 people died since September 2021. “This means that there are still too many Maybrat refugees from five districts and 18 villages in Aifat, who have not returned to their homes,” said Pastor Lobya. They live in suffering and face various difficulties around several aspects of life such as education, health, shelter, and finances. 

Indeed, from 24 to 27 July 2023, KOMNAS HAM visited different places in Sorong and Maybrat and found out that there are still more than 5,000 IDPs from Maybrat who are living in very challenging conditions. 

Human rights defenders have also collected information about the situation in August 2023 in the Aifat area. In Aifat Selatan, many IDPs have returned to their homes in 13 out of the 16 villages in the district, two schools in two villages are confirmed functional. However, three villages are still unpopulated. The nine villages in the Aifat Timur District are still inhabited, no IDPs have returned, and churches and schools are closed. The seven villages in the Aifat Timur Jauh District are still empty and three elementary schools, one middle school and three churches are still closed. In Aifat Timur Tengah there are 11 empty villages, out the the 10 villages in the district. In Faan Kahrio Village, there are 7 heads of families who have returned, but many are still in refugee camps. Catholic schools and churches are still closed and there is one military post.

Additionally, there are four military posts in the area, one in Imsun village, one in Tahsimara, one in Kisor and one in Bohsa, Aifat Selatan District. 

The information collected showed 11 other villages in the area inhabited. There is one military post in Kamat Raya Village. In Ayata Raya village there is one military (TNI) post and 1 Brimob post.

The situation of IDPs who returned home and the government’s role

Even though the Maybrat government set up a team to support IDPs in returning home, it hasn’t worked well. The people who’ve returned home live in constant fear of the military. Before, they could freely do things like gardening or hunting, but now, they need to get permission at the military checkpoints for everything, as stated by one of the villagers. The military has also taken over buildings like schools and churches.

For people who’ve come back to their villages, starting over hasn’t been easy. They’ve had to fix their damaged homes, grow food, and find ways to survive all over again. The Repatriation Team, formed by the local government, promised to fix the houses and help them for six months, but that hasn’t happened. Their houses are still broken, and they’re struggling to make a living on their own after coming back. The Maybrat government hasn’t done much to provide access to education and healthcare. 

Challenges regarding access to education 

Some schools are being used as military bases. The YPPK Elementary School Building in Faan Kahrio Village, YPPK Santo Mikael Elementary School Building in Kamat Village, YPPK Ayata Elementary School Building in Ayata Village, and Aifat Timur State High School 1 Building in Ayata Village have all become military posts. On 14 July 2023, the IDP’s Maybrat Repatriation Team, along with the military, village leaders, and residents, reopened Impres Elementary School in Tahsimara Village. This school is now a place for kids from different villages to learn, including Faan Kahrio Village in the Aifat Timur Tengah District, Foug Raya Village in the Aifat Selatan District, and Aisa Raya Village in the Aifat Timur District.

Intan Jaya: Government starts returning IDPs home

On 1 August 2023, the Intan Jaya district government officially opened flights in order to return people from Intan Jaya who fled to Nabire, Paniai and Timika away from the armed conflict between the Indonesian military and the TPNPB, which has been ongoing since December 2019.

When opening the inaugural flight to return IDPs to their homes, the Acting Regent of Intan Jaya, Apollos Bagau, said the local government had budgeted funds to return refugees to Intan Jaya in the 2022 fiscal year. He explained that for this purpose, the local government through its social services has been collecting data on refugees from Intan Jaya districts in Nabire, Paniai and Timika, Central Papua.

The Acting Regent express gratitude to all parties who have participated in collecting data on refugees in Nabire, Paniai and Timika, and to the airline cooperating with the Intan Jaya government to return refugees to their homes. The first flight of repatriation of Intan Jaya refugees from Nabire Airport to Bilorai Airport in Sugapa was with Smart Air Airlines and carried 12 passengers.  

According to the local government, the situation in Intan Jaya Regency is not calm, but the disturbances that have occurred in the last six months are not so substantial. In general, Intan Jaya is recovering. 

Acting Regent of Intan Jaya Regency, Apolos Bagau accompanied by the Head of Intan Jaya Regency Social Service, Oni Dendegau officially opened the flight for the return of refugees from Intan Jaya who fled to Nabire, Paniai and Timika in 2019 and later. Photo at Nabire airport, Central Papua.

Nduga: The number of IDPs continues to rise

A total of 63 Papuan residents of Kroptak District, Nduga Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province fled their homes and walked for four days until they reached the Kendibam Village in Kenya District. Earlier this year, the re-occurrence of armed clashes between Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in the Kenyam District, Nduga Regency, had already caused the internal displacement of 276 indigenous Papuans from the seven districts. Kroptak was not one of those districts.

The Chief of Nduga Sub-Regional Police, Police Superintendent Rio Alexander Penelewan, confirmed that as many as 63 residents of Kroptak District were internally displaced and that among them are nine minors. They all arrived in Kenya on 1 July 2023 early morning after being picked up by security forces in Kendibam Village using trucks. “It has not been ascertained why dozens of residents were displaced because the most important thing is that we help them arrive in Kenyam,” Rio said. He shares his belief that the displacement of dozens of Kroptak residents was likely due to actions of the TPNPB, which frightened the community into fleeing their village. “However, to ascertain the cause, we will ask for information from residents,” he said. When asked about the conflict situation in the Nduga area, Rio admitted that it was relatively conducive even though members remained alert and vigilant.

Pegunungan Bintang: 74 IDPs have died

Church workers have documented 74 deaths among the IDPs, most of them from between April and July 2023 in the shelters in Okhika District. They have gathered complete data for 21 of them (see table below). For more information on the armed conflict in Kiwirok, which triggered the IDP situation in the Regency, see HRM’s report presentation.

NoNameGenderAgeVillage of OriginPlace of death Further information 
1Yupita HipkaF48HopbagonOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food 
2Iriana MiminF46BakonaipOkhika  Illness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
3Ben Bidana M65AwomdonOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
4Devote KalakmabinF53HopbagonOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food.
5Maite Uopmabin F49BugaipOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
6Palius Uopmabin M42KiwiOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
7Peles TaploM18Okhyet Okhika OkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
8Estep Kalakmabin M12Hilmagot OkhikaOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
9Alesi TaploM32KiwiOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
10Yupita Mimin F40Kotyo Okhika OkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
11Demia Kalaka F50OktenemOkhika  Illness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
12Zet Mimin M61TengnongOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
13Apolin Bidana F59HiltumdingOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
14Akuta HiktaopF32OkhitaipOkhika  Illness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
15Aten Kalakmabin M41DelekpalOkhikaIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
16Matius Kaladana M55PalemOkhika  Illness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
17Leti Uopmabin F29UngugolkopSentaniIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
18Ema HiktaopF39KiwiKiwiIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
19Yosep Taplo M24KiwiKiwiIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
20Ikaros Tepmul M27PelebibKiwiIllness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food
21Wengki KalakaM40OksipOkhika.Illness, no medical assistance and difficult access to food