IDP Update, October 2023: recent displacement in Yahukimo, Pegunungan Bintang and Fakfak Regencies

According to data compiled by human rights defenders in various regencies across West Papua, as of September 2023, a total of 76,228 people, most of them indigenous Papuans, remain internally displaced because of the armed conflict (see table PDF). The last IDP update published in August provided information on the situation of IDPs in Intan Jaya and Nduga. It also included data about the IDPs from seven districts in Maybrat Regency; and from Kiwirok in Pegunungan Bintang Regency, all internally displaced in 2021. The following update includes information regarding Maybrat and Kiwirok, already shared in the August update. Additionally, it provides an update on IDPs from Suru-Suru in Yahukimo Regency (displaced in 2021), and information on the recent displacements in Dekai, Yahukimo Regency; Serambakon District, Pegunungan Bintang Regency; and Kramongmonga District, Fakfak Regency.

Fak-Fak Regency, Papua Barat Province

Recent internal displacement in Kramongmongga District

Joint security force members carried out a series of raids in the Kramongmongga DistrictFakfak RegencyPapua Barat Province. They began on 16 August 2023, one day after unknown perpetrators set the Fakfak district office and a school on fire. The Kramongmongga District Chief, Mr Darson Hegemur, was killed during the incident. Security force personnel killed five suspects during two separate raids on 31 August and 9 September 2023. Twelve other villagers, including women and children, were reportedly arrested in different locations. 

About 500 indigenous Papuans from the villages of Mamur and Nembukteb reportedly fled into the forest in fear of being arbitrarily arrested. They reside in temporary shelters in the forest where they live isolated from their gardens, education facilities and healthcare services.

Pegunungan Bintang Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province

Updated information about IDPs from Kiwirok

A series of raids in the Kiwirok District between 13 September and late October 2021 had far-reaching consequences for the indigenous Ngalum people of Kiwirok. Air raids and weaponised drones led to the destruction of houses, while security force members reportedly killed the livestock and devastated the gardens. Analysis of satellite imagery indicates that 206 buildings in the eight villages were destroyed during the security force operation in Kiwirok, including homes and public buildings such as churches and schools. At least 2,252 indigenous Ngalum people fled their villages and have not returned to their homes as of June 2023.

Church workers have documented 74 deaths among the IDPs, most of them between April and July 2023 in the shelters located in the Okhika District. They have gathered complete data for 21 of them. Two infants named Merri Melanesia Uopmabin (2years) and Amkon Ningmabin (3 years) reportedly died without access to healthcare services on 29 September and 2 October 2023 (see phots below).

Recent internal displacement in the Serambakon District 

Armed clashes between Indonesian security forces and the TPNPB in the Serambakon District on 18 September 2023 resulted in the internal displacement of at least 91 persons, all of them indigenous Ngalum people. One Indonesian military was killed during the clashes. 

According to information documented by local church workers, there are ten sick persons and two pregnant women, as well as 47 children among the IDPs. The IDPs are afraid to return to their villages. They fear being killed, tortured, or arbitrarily arrested by security forces.

The IDPs live in temporary shelters in the forest where they remain cut off from steady food supply, healthcare, and education services. A video shared with HRM shows a group of internally displaced Ngalum in the forest. A woman distributes leaves among the children because the IDPs face food shortages. The number of displacements is expected to rise as the TPNPB command in Pegunungan Bintang has announced it will continue to conduct armed attacks until the end of September 2023. 

Yahukimo Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province

Updated information on the situation in Suru-Suru

IDPs from the Suru-Suru District, Yahukimo Regency, have still not returned to their villages yet. The villages in the district continue to be heavily guarded by Indonesian military members. A total of 1,971 people, most of them indigenous Papuans, have fled from Suru-Suru since 20 November 2021.

The village governments as well as education and medical facilities in Suru-Suru remain dysfunctional as of September 2023. Security force members devastated the rooms, the windows of the buildings were broken, and the buildings were damaged. The garden and all livestock are gone and have been overgrown by grass, TNI members are using some of the remaining gardens to grow vegetables and fruits for their consumption. Some village leaders and pastors have meanwhile returned to Suru-Suru.

In August 2023. members of the Indonesian National Army (TNI) forced the district government and church leaders to gather IDPs living in the neighbouring Asmat Regency in Suru-Suru to attend a flag ceremony on the Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August 2023. The IDPs were forced to participate in every competition and event they had prepared. All TNI members were fully armed and remained in an alert position during the event.

Recent internal displacement in Dekai District 

Armed clashes in the Dekai District, Yahukimo Regency, Papua Pegunungan Province, and subsequent raids of residential houses at the Kali Bonto estuary have led to the internal displacement of 554 persons. The IDPs belong to 169 Papuan families originating from nine districts in the regency. The raid occurred shortly after TPNPB members attacked a military post on 21 August 2023.  The shootout resulted in the death of one military member. Reports revealed acts of arbitrary arrests and torture during the raid.

Many IDPs have lost their homes and belongings. Security force members reportedly burned down twelve residential houses, killing livestock. Additionally, 15 pigs died due to lack of care after their owners fled their homes. Thirteen IDPs are sick, highlighting the health challenges they are currently facing. A one-year-old baby reportedly died on 13 September 2023. The majority of the IDPs reside in four different locations across the town of Dekai.

Solidarity groups have opened a humanitarian post to collect humanitarian aid. The IDPs declared they would receive any donations apart from those from the police or military. According to local media, the Yahukimo Regency Government has assisted in the form of rice, necessities, and funds. Local government representatives have promised to relocate the IDPs for their safety and well-being. However, the authorities’ promise has not been taken into action as of late September 2023. Despite a visit by local parliament members and several meetings between communal leaders from Kali Bonto and government authorities, the IDPs have not received medical attention as of 15 September 2023. 

Instead, the Papua Police Chief (Kapolda Papua), Commissioner Mathius Fakhiri, made a public statementin which he claimed that the Kali Bonto residents who had fled their houses could not be classified as refugees or IDPs (“Bhs Indonesia “pengungsi”). Instead, Fakhiri made the misleading statement that the residents from Kali Bonto had “only temporarily sought shelter in Dekai” because they were afraid of the TPNPB.

Maybrat, Papua Barat Province

Update on the situation in Maybrat

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 scattered across Maybrat. Many have moved to Sorong City and the surrounding area. From 24 to 27 July 2023, the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (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. According to the numbers released by Komnas HAM on 28 July 2023, a total of 5,296 IDPs continue to live in scattered accommodations in the city of Sorong without the perspective of returning to their villages.  According to Komnas HAM, 138 people have died since September 2021. Many were forced to rent rooms in boarding houses with their own funds. The rooms are heavily overcrowded. Many IDPs are threatened to drift into poverty without access to their land. The financial situation of most IDPs hampers access to education and health services in the city.

Human rights defenders have also collected information about the situation in the Aifat area in August 2023. They collected evidence of 95 deaths among IDPs, a lower number of deaths than Komnas HAM reported. According to the information collected, 16 men, 45 women, five teenagers and two infants have died between September 2021 and August 2023. 

In Aifat Selatan, displaced villagers from 13 out of the 16 villages in the district have returned to their homes, while only two schools in two villages were functional. Nine villages in the Aifat Timur District are still not inhabited. The IDPs have not 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 not operating. In Aifat Timur Tengah, there are human rights defenders counted ten empty villages, out of the eleven villages in the district. In Faan Kahrio Village, seven families have returned to their homes despite the heavy military presence in the area. 

Four Catholic church facilities are being used as military posts:

– YPPK Kahrio Catholic School, Faan Kahrio village, Aifat Timur Tengah District;

– SD YPPK Santo Mikael Kamat, Kamat Raya Village, Aifat Timur Tengah District;

– YPPK Ayata Raya Elementary School, Aifat Aifat Timur Tengah District;

– SMP Negri Aifat Timur, Ayata village, Aifat Timur Tengah District.

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 returnee IDPs and the government’s role

The Maybrat government has set up a team to support IDPs in returning home. However, this approach has not been very successful. The people who’ve returned home live in constant fear of the military. Villagers testified they are obliged to report to the military checkpoints if they go gardening or hunting. The military continues to occupy public facilities, including schools and churches.

For people who’ve returned to their villages, starting over has been challenging. They had to fix their damaged homes, restore their gardens, grow food, and find ways to survive. The Repatriation Team, formed by the local government, promised to fix the houses and help them for six months, but that hasn’t happened. Many houses are still damaged, and people are struggling to make a living on their own after coming back. The Maybrat government has failed to provide access to education and healthcare in the villages. The government’s efforts to repatriate IDPs appear coercive and violate IDP’s right to obtain protection from repatriation or forcible resettlement back to a place where their lives, safety, liberty, and/or health would be threatened.

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 the Inpres Elementary School in Tahsimara Village. This school is currently the only education facility for children from the 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.

Table: IDPs across West Papua, Indonesia, as of September 2023

NoRegencyIDPsDisplaced sinceAdditional info
1Nduga56,981[1]04 Dec 18IDPs originate from 11 districts in Nduga;  more than 615 IDPs reportedly died as of January 2022
2Puncak2,724[2]27 April 21at least 16 IDPs have reportedly died during displacement
3Intan Jaya5,859[3]26 Oct 21at least 126 IDPs face health issues, and 11 IDPs reportedly died
4Maybrat5,296[4]02 Sept 21IDPs originated from 5 districts, 138 IDPs reportedly died, the local Govt reportedly facilitated the return of several hundred IDPs from nine villages since November 2022
5Pegunungan Bintang (Kiwirok District)2,252[5]10 Oct 21about 200 IDPs fled to PNG, 74 IDPs reportedly died, dozens IDPs suffer from sickness
6Pegunungan Bintang (Serambakon District)91[6]18 Sep 23ten persons sick, two women pregnant, 47 children among the IDPs
7Yahukimo (Suru-Suru District)1,971[7]20 Nov 21IDPs from 13 villages sought shelter in 15 temporary camps, 16 women gave birth without medical attention, and 13 IDPs reportedly died.
8Yahukimo (Dekai District)554 [8]21 Aug 2313 persons sick, one died
9Fakfak (Kramongmongga District500[9]16 Aug 23N/A
 T O T A L76,228  
  • [1] The number was compiled by a group of Papuan human rights defenders that visited IDPs from Nduga in the town of Wamena and surrounding areas between 12 and 20 July 2023  
  • [2] Jubi (9.11.2021): SORAKPATOK: 300 tewas dan 50 ribu warga Papua mengungsi, available at:
  • [3] CNN Indonesia (30.10.2021): Ribuan Warga Papua Mengungsi Usai Pecah Kontak Senjata, available at:
  • [4] Figures were published by the National human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) in July 2023, see Suara Papua (30.07.2023): 5.296 Warga Kabupaten Maybrat Masih Bertahan di Tempat Pengungsian, available at:
  • [5] The number was compiled from multiple lists with names of IDPs which local human rights defenders compiled in Pegunugan Bintang between April and July 2023. Church workers updated the number of deaths in July 2023
  • [6] The number is based on a name list that human rights defenders in Serambakon compiled shortly after the displacements occurred.
  • [7] The number is based on data compiled by local church workers. The information was received in February 2022
  • [8] The number is based on a name list that human rights defenders in Dekai compiled in September 2023
  • [9] The number is based on an estimation made by local human rights defenders in Kramongmongga in September 2023

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