West Papua: 182 Refugees from Nduga who Fled from the Indonesian Military have Died in Displacement Camps

08.08.19: Reports from the TPNB (National Liberation Army of West Papua) state that thousands of civilians have fled the Nduga regency since December 2018 as a result of operations by the occupying TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces). The TNI launched a major assault on Nduga following an armed attack by TPNB forces on December 1st, 2018 against an Indonesian government construction site that resulted in the deaths of 19 contractors.  The occupying TNI forces destroyed and burned civilian infrastructure and homes in retaliation for the attack, forcing thousands of civilians to flee in fear of their lives.

Last week, the aid group Solidarity Team for Nduga announced that at least 182 refugees from Nduga have died in displacement camps due to famine and disease. Among the dead were 92 children. This is an increase of a previous estimate of 139 deaths. Citing data from a church group, a volunteer NGO team and refugee testimony, Solidarity Team for Nduga have estimated that more than 34,000 refugees were forced to flee from Nduga. They also stated that this includes 3,400 school children who have been unable to resume their studies since fleeing from the TNI.

The TNI and the Indonesian Central Government have denied the latest figures and have launched a media propaganda campaign that included coverage of aid being delivered to Nduga refugees. A report from the TPNB denounced this propaganda exercise and stated that the refugees have refused the aid. According to tribal law in the Central Highlands of West Papua, aid cannot be accepted from an enemy who has not been reconciled with.

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